(WHTM) — “John, we get it. You have a Black friend.”
Democratic candidate Malcolm Kenyatta’s questioning of candidate John Fetterman’s actions during a 2013 incident in Braddock was just one of a few tense moments that came out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate debate Thursday night.
“The question is, did you point at the chest of a Black man? And you have an opportunity with all of Pennsylvania watching to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ Are you going to say I’m sorry today,” Kenyatta asked Fetterman.
On the topic of electability, abc27’s Dennis Owens, acting as co-moderator, asked Fetterman about the 2013 incident when, shotgun in hand, he confronted a Black man because he suspected the man was involved in gunfire nearby.
The incident has shadowed the campaign trail, brought up by both Lamb and Kenyatta at both public appearances and online.
Fetterman has spoken before of how he believed he had heard gunfire while outside his home in the small town of Braddock when he was mayor in 2013. He has said he pursued a mask and goggle-wearing man he saw running nearby, covered head to toe in the cold January weather, pulling out a shotgun until police arrived.
The man — Christopher Miyares, who is Black — was unarmed and said in a TV interview afterward that he had been jogging when Fetterman, who is white, pulled up in his pickup and pointed the shotgun at him.
Fetterman has denied pointing the shotgun at Miyares and said it wasn’t loaded.
Fetterman said he didn’t know Miyares’ race when he got into his pickup truck to pursue him. He also suggested that Miyares was involved in something that he was running away from.
On Thursday night, Owens asked Fetterman, “if presented with the same situation, would you do anything differently today?”
“It’s certainly not a situation that anyone would want to be involved with, with gun violence. But I would like to point out that I am the only Democrat on stage that has successfully confronted crime and gun violence and has been in charge of a police department,” Fetterman said.
Police never charged Fetterman or Miyares in the matter.
Owens pointed to a statement by Miyares in the Philadelphia Inquirer that said, “It is inhumane to believe one mistake should define a man’s life… I hope he gets to be a Senator.”
Lamb, however, said that in the same statement Owens referenced, Miyares believes to this day that Fetterman is lying about the question of whether Fetterman pointed the shotgun at him.
“The man is incarcerated and John is one of the people who holds the keys to letting him out. He chairs the board of pardon. So I am not surprised by that statement in the least and it’s a kind thing for him to say,” Lamb said.
Lamb continued, saying that not only did Miyares say Fetterman pointed the gun at his face, but that John did as well to the police following the incident, according to the police report.
“But today, not only will John not admit that he was pointing the gun at the person, he also won’t answer your question to whether he did anything wrong and should’ve done it differently. And I just think that’s disqualifying for any of us who have to work hard to gain the trust of the Black community.”
Kenyatta chose to speak directly to Fetterman, saying “For somebody who has cut an image as an incredibly tough guy, you are so afraid of two little words: I’m sorry.”
“It is not okay what John did and John, I hope tonight, you will say those two simple words, ‘I’m sorry,'” Kenyatta said.
Given the opportunity to respond, Fetterman said he had much to clarify.
“I think it is important to mention that the people of Braddock who know me, that know my heart, know that 2013 had nothing to do with what they are saying today. There was no profiling or anything like that involved. They know that. And that’s why they re-elected me by overwhelming margins to two additional terms as mayor,” Fetterman said. “At the end of the day, I want that to be clear. I never pointed the weapon at the individual.”
Neither Fetterman nor Kenyatta were swayed in their stances, bringing the conversation to a close.
To watch more moments from the debate, click here.