Playing the Victim: Fetterman Says Opponents Have 'Weaponized' Fact That He Once Pulled Shotgun on Black Jogger

October 12, 2022

Democratic Pennsylvania Senate hopeful John Fetterman this week portrayed himself as a victim of Republican attacks over an incident in which he pulled a shotgun on an unarmed black jogger when he was mayor of Braddock, Pa., in 2013.

In a wide-ranging NBC News interview, Fetterman said he was merely "defending" his community when he chased down a black jogger he falsely suspected of firing a gun near his home in the Pittsburgh suburb. Fetterman issued no apology to the man, Christopher Miyares, but instead claimed that his political opponents have "weaponized" the affair against him.

"They understood what that situation was about, defending the community," said Fetterman. "People didn't believe how it's being weaponized against me, because that's not what was the truth."

Republicans have hammered Fetterman over the incident in an appeal to black voters, with one group airing an ad calling Fetterman a "white vigilante." Fetterman's Democratic primary opponents also highlighted the issue earlier this year, pointing out the discrepancy of Fetterman chasing down a black man while professing support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"John Fetterman has had NINE YEARS to apologize and understand the impact of his actions," said Democratic state representative Malcolm Kenyatta, who is black. "Instead he has shifted blame, changed his story, and said anyone asking him to take responsibility is 'attacking him.'"

Fetterman has repeatedly defended his actions while casting doubt on Miyares's version of events. "I believe I did the right thing, but I may have broken the law during the course of it," Fetterman said in an interview after the incident.

"I've never conceded that his side of the story was the truth," Fetterman said after launching his Senate campaign last year.

According to a police report, officers frisked Miyares but found no weapon on him. The report said that Miyares "was very cooperative" but "upset that Fetterman pulled a shotgun on him."

"He's trying to make it like it's OK. I mean, he's trying to justify what he did," Miyares said in a television interview at the time.