Skip to Content

Relatives of Ma’Khia Bryant, Black teen fatally shot by police, appeal for justice

Ma’Khia Bryant’s cousins remembered the Black teenager fatally shot by police in Ohio as “a good student, a good person” whose life was unnecessarily cut short by “disproportionate and unjustified use of force.”

“As a family we are all saddened by the tragic and unnecessary death of Ma’Khia,” cousins Don Bryant and Deja Torrence said in a public appeal for justice. “She was loved by many… We want to remind everyone Ma’Khia was only a 16 year old teenage girl.”

Officials in the city of Columbus have released body camera video of Tuesday’s shooting — during which Ma’Khia lunges at another young woman with a knife — and urged residents to await the facts in the investigation.

The shooting occurred about 30 minutes before a guilty verdict was delivered in the killing of George Floyd. A jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges against him.

“As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting,” Floyd family attorney Ben Crump tweeted.

The Columbus Board of Education, in a statement, lamented the deaths of Ma’Khia and Tre Von Dickson, a public school student killed by gun violence on Tuesday.

“While the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial is now one demonstration that the ‘system’ can be held accountable, it certainly does not demonstrate that the system has been corrected or that there is true justice,” board members said in a statement.

Ma’Khia enrolled at Independence High School in February. Franklin County Children’s Services said she was a foster child in the county’s care.

“We are tired of hearing about our students who are losing their lives because of community violence and these tragedies that seem like they’re never ending,” Columbus City Schools Superintendent Talisa Dixon said.

Officer who fired fatal shots identified

City and police officials almost immediately released video footage of the controversial shooting at a time when police use of force is under national scrutiny. In February, former Columbus police officer Adam Coy was indicted on charges related to the fatal shooting of Andre Hill, a 47-year-old Black man.

“We don’t yet have all of the facts but we do know that a 16-year-old girl, a child of this community, tragically died last night,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told reporters on Wednesday.

“Bottom line: Did Ma’Khia Bryant need to die yesterday?” he added. “How did we get here? This is a failure on the part of our community. Some are guilty but all of us are responsible.”

Ginther said state investigators will determine “if the officer involved was wrong, and if he was we will hold him accountable.”

Police identified the officer who fired the shots as Nicholas Reardon, who was hired in December 2019. The officer is off street duty pending an investigation.

Police attempt to revive teen after shooting

In a series of clips from police body camera video, Ma’Khia is seen holding a knife during a tussle with another young woman. An officer arrived at the scene and opened fire when the girl appeared to attempt to stab a second woman.

“She’s a —- kid,” a man at the scene tells the officer after four shots were fired. “Damn, are you stupid?”

Ma’Khia fell to the ground, the knife by her side.

“She came at her with a knife,” the officer who fired his weapon is heard saying.

The situation unfolded rapidly, according to clips from the body cameras of three officers on the street. Ma’Khia was holding a knife in her right hand and charged a young woman dressed in pink — who turned to her side as the teen appeared to attempt to stab her. That’s when the shots rang out.

Officers attempted life saving measures “almost immediately,” said interim Police Chief Michael Woods, who said the first medic was on scene in six minutes.

In the video, one officer asked, “Where is she hit?” The officer started lifesaving measures. “Stay with us,” he told the girl and asked bystanders her name.

“Stay with us, Ma’Khia,” he implored.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation looking into shooting

Officials urged the community to wait for all the facts to come out.

If an officer is “faced with someone employing deadly force, deadly force can be the response,” Woods told reporters.

Ginther said the Bureau of Criminal Investigation will look into actions of the officer.

“I understand the outrage and the emotion about this incident,” Department of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. said at a news conference. “The video shows there is more to this. It requires us to pause.”

A pair of CNN law enforcement analysts defended the officer’s use of force as reasonable.

“You don’t shoot, the one young lady, she stabs the other one and she dies,” Charles Ramsey, a former Philadelphia police commissioner, said of the officer’s actions. “But he had no other alternative, in my mind, other than to take some action because of what was going on. The young lady who was shot was clearly the aggressor in this case.”

Anthony Barksdale, a former Baltimore City deputy police commissioner, told CNN the officer used lethal force when another person “was in clear and imminent danger of being stabbed.”

“The officer used his service weapon to stop the threat,” he said. “This unfortunate tragic incident was justified from a policing perspective… I am saying that, per training, the officer did his job and we need to start looking at each incident as its own incident.”

Head of police union offers condolences

The president of the police union offered condolences to Ma’Khia’s family.

“It’s traumatic on everyone and we understand that,” Keith Ferrell, president of the Capitol City Lodge number 9, said in a video, according to CNN affiliate WSYX.

“We have all seen the videos that have been released by the city now in the act of full transparency and we support that.”

Ferrell added, “What we’ve seen in a lot of circumstances and heard from the call, the 911 calls, we can see what we think has unfolded. But there is more to look at. There will be an independent investigation done that will get those answers. But we can speak on what we know now that has been released by the City of Columbus. We can certainly see that lives were at stake.”

Ferrell said officers must make split-second decisions to save lives.

“We have a duty to protect the public and ourselves, certainly, the public,” he said. “These are the kind of decisions officers are forced to make every day, and with this transparency, the public can see that. As unfortunate as it is, we do not know potentially how many lives could have been lost in addition or people seriously injured.”

Governor calls it a ‘horrible, horrible tragedy’

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine called Ma’Khia’s death a “horrible, horrible tragedy” and praised Ginther for releasing videos of the incident.

“We should have enough compassion to worry about every child who is shot in our cities,” DeWine said at a briefing. And we should not accept it.”

In Tuesday’s shooting, police received a call at 4:32 p.m. indicating “females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them,” Columbus Interim Police Chief Michael Woods said.

When police arrived, the first officer on the scene approaches a group in the driveway of a home, according to that officer’s bodycam footage.

The video shows a teen quickly move toward another girl with what appears to be a knife, and the girl falls to the ground. The officer yells, “Hey, hey, hey, hey. Get down!” before she appears to lunge at a second girl with the knife, according to the video.

The officer tells her to “Get Down! Get down! Get down! Get down!” and then fires four shots in the direction of the teenager.

One officer attends to the shooting victim. Officers assessed the girl for injuries and summoned a medic, Woods said.

Police did not have any information on whether the two other individuals were injured, Woods said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a crowd of demonstrators — including Ohio State University students — marched in downtown Columbus toward the state Capitol building. They chanted “Black lives matter” and “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” They also chanted Ma’Khia Bryant’s name.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

Jump to comments ↓



KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content