"If it happens to get rough, don't say anything, don't do anything, just comply," O'Neal said

By Tim McGovern
June 03, 2020 10:28 PM
Shareef O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, and Shaqir O'Neal
LISA O'CONNOR/Getty Images

Shaquille O'Neal is opening up amid the continued, nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd's death about what he tells his sons about what to say and do in a potential interaction with police.

"I have to talk with them all the time," the NBA Hall of Famer said while on Tuesday night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! "I told them, 'First of all, you have to try to defuse the situation or show respect. If you have to understand that these people are also out here to do all their jobs. So you try to defuse the situation. If it happens to get rough, don't say anything, don't do anything, just comply.'"

"'And then when all is said and done, you call me, and if stuff gets out of hand, then I will handle it,'" O'Neal continued telling host Jimmy Kimmel. "'I will be the one to come around and act crazy. I don’t want you to act crazy while you’re out there by yourself.' So I just try to tell them, just comply, just listen, but a lot of times that doesn’t work either."

Shaquille O'Neal
Kevin Winter/Getty

O'Neal also commented on the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on his neck as Floyd said repeatedly he couldn't breathe and pleaded for the officer to stop.

"It was all the way wrong," O'Neal added. "Absolutely wrong, uncalled for. I've never seen that technique taught."

George Floyd
Ben Crump Law Firm

The officer in question, Derek Chauvin, was previously charged with third-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter charges but this was upgraded to second-degree murder on Wednesday.

Formal criminal charges have also been filed in Minnesota against the three other policemen ⁠— Thomas Lane, 37, Tou Thao, 34, and J. Alexander Kueng, 26 ⁠— who were present at the time of George Floyd's May 25 death, according to a warrant reviewed by PEOPLE.

"Everybody's upset. Everybody's tired," O'Neal continued of the national mood. "We demand justice ... they try to appease us by arresting one guy, but it was four officers out there, people are just sick and tired."

"When I watched the video, I was disgusted," he added of Floyd's arrest video, which O'Neal said showed that Floyd was being compliant. "I think you have your knee on the man's neck for more than five minutes — it just didn't make any sense. ... You know better, you have to know better in certain situations."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.