Note: we are republishing this story amid nationwide discussion regarding police reform and the relationship between police officers and their communities.
The mother of a drug dealer who was shot dead by police had a shocking reaction to her son's death that quickly went viral.
Cyrida Levison told WOIO that her son, Antonio Levison, was killed justifiably by police after he pulled a gun on officers during a chase. Levison referred to her son as a "drug dealer" and said that the officers had no choice but to shoot him.
"It’s not their fault. They were doing their jobs. They had to do what they had to do. My son pulled the gun on them. So that’s what happened. They had to do what they had to do to protect themselves," Levison told the station, adding that she often warned her son where his life would end up if he continued dealing drugs and carrying guns.
"But look where you’re at now. You’re not even with me. You’re gone. You’re in a morgue, with a tag on your foot," she said. "I can’t bring my son back."
"I didn’t want it to end like this… And I’m sorry to say that. And I love my son. But there’s nothing I can do. I can’t bring him back," she added.
Levison also had a message for other young people like her 33-year-old son who take to the streets and involve themselves in criminal activity.
"Please put these guns down. Take it from a mother that knows… It’s not worth losing your life running from the police, shooting at the police. You’ve got families…My son was a street person. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth your life. Trust me," she said. "You’re invincible to your friends – whoever carries guns – you’re invincible to your friends. You’re not invincible to the police. Because the police are trained to kill."
Many readers expressed sympathy for the mother and applauded her for being truthful about the circumstances surrounding her son's death.
"Prayers for her as a mother I totally agree with her. Mother's love their children no matter what but sometimes children make bad decisions. I pray for your broken heart to be healed by Jesus and that all the young people listen to your wise words," one reader commented on Facebook.
"How much strength this mother shows is unreal. She's grieving, but not hiding behind it. I admire any one with this much strength. Please pray for her and I hope he family and friends help her with her grief. GOD bless you," another wrote.
"Finally a stand-up woman with her feet planted in reality. She's probably a law-abiding woman who tried to raise her children to do the right thing. Unfortunately sometimes that doesn't work out. I applaud her for showing the people the reality of the situation," another added.