Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) highlighted what he called a "troubling pattern" in Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke's posture toward law enforcement during a debate Friday night.
Cruz's remarks came after he was asked why he cautioned O'Rourke and others not to jump to conclusions in the tragic shooting of Botham Shem Jean, who was gunned down by a Dallas police officer in his own apartment on Sept. 6. O'Rourke has called for the police officer, who has since been charged with manslaughter, to be fired.
What did Cruz say?
What happened to Mr. Jean was horrific. Nobody should be in their own home and be shot and killed in their own home. It was tragic. Now the officer as I understand it has contended that it was a tragic mistake — it was a case where the thought she was in her own apartment, she thought he was an intruder.
Right now today, I don't know what happened that evening. Congressman O'Rourke doesn't know what happened that evening. But he immediately called for firing the officer. I think that's a mistake. Look, we have a criminal justice system, a criminal justice system that will determine what happened that night. If she violated the law, if she did that intentionally, she'll face the consequences.
But without knowing the facts, before a trial, before a jury has heard the evidence, Congressman O'Rourke is ready to convict her, ready to fire her. And I'll tell you, it's a troubling pattern. Over and over again, Congressman O'Rourke, when faced with an issue about police and law enforcement, he sides against the police.
Later in his response, Cruz hit O'Rourke for allegedly describing law enforcement as "modern day Jim Crow" earlier in the week.
"Let me say something: I have gotten to know police officers all across this state — that is offensive," Cruz said. "That is not Texas."
O'Rourke flatly denied Cruz's characterization of his comments.
"What Senator Cruz said is simply untrue, I did not call police officers 'modern day Jim Crow,'" O'Rourke said, adding that "we've got to do something better than what we've been doing so far" referring to police shootings of black men.
So who's telling the truth?
According to NBC News, O'Rourke invoked the phrase "new Jim Crow" earlier in the week at a town hall when speaking about systematic injustice that plagues the American criminal justice system.
That injustice, to many more people here than I know firsthand, continues to persist today. That system of suspecting somebody, solely based on the color of their skin searching that person solely based on the color of their skin. Stopping that person solely based on the color of their skin. Shooting someone solely based on the color of their skin. Throwing the book at that person and letting them rot behind bars solely based on the color of their skin. It is why some have called this — I think it’s an apt description— the new Jim Crow.
In an email Friday night, O'Rourke's campaign followed up to explain that O'Rourke was discussing system-wide injustice, not just those committed by police officers, when he used the phrase "new Jim Crow."