April 2021

Columbus, state leaders react to shooting death of Ma’Khia Bryant

Courtesy of ABC 6
By Falycia Campbell
April 21, 2021
Following the deadly officer-involved shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, Columbus leaders, as well as state leaders are sharing their thoughts on the incident.

Officers with the Columbus Division of Police had responded to 3171 Legion Lane around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20. Police say a 911 caller told dispatchers that females were there to stab them and put their hands on them.

This shooting happened just before the verdict was announced in the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin was found guilty of the death of George Floyd last May.

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said in a statement, that transparency is paramount right now.

As we watched the verdict from Minneapolis, many talked about a sigh of relief. However, there is no relief for so many in our community, and Columbus knows this first hand. While the Chauvin verdict was a moment of accountability, it coincided with another instance of deadly force. This is not right, this is not ok, and this can’t continue.

Transparency is paramount right now, as shock turns to mourning. Body camera footage was released last night in the Ma’Khia Bryant shooting, and the 911 audio and other officers’ body camera footage should be released as well.

We need to change the City’s training and hiring process. We must push for a new culture in Columbus where guns are not the final answer to every threat, and we must implement a new vision of safety in Columbus. But the truth is that nothing we do will ever bring Ma’Khia Bryant back or console those who loved her, and that breaks my heart.

Hours after the shooting happened, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said it is a tragic day for the city. He said the officer took action to protect another young girl.

It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus. A horrible, heartbreaking situation. I’m not just the mayor, I’m a father. The city of Columbus lost a 15-year-old girl today. We know based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community. But a family is grieving tonight and this young 15-year-old girl will never be coming home.

In a statement from Columbus Urban League President & CEO Stephanie Hightower said losing a child is simply unthinkable. Hightower questioned if shooting Bryant was necessary.

Just as we began to experience some sense of hope and healing from the murder of George Floyd, we lost one of our children. I grieve deeply for the loved ones who mourn Ma’Khia today. Losing a child is simply unthinkable. I also grieve for our entire community. One more precious life has been lost and, at the moment, we struggle with far more questions than answers about why.

Was it necessary to shoot? Couldn’t officers have used another option to defuse and de-escalate? Wasn’t there a concern for the safety of other people on the scene? If this incident occurred in a white suburban neighborhood and teenage girls were fighting, would officers have chosen the same method to respond?

We have no choice but to wait for more complete answers and greater clarity. But even as the experts investigate, even if they verify that the officer involved followed proper protocol, we need to ask ourselves if this is the kind of policing that our community needs and deserves. As noted by the federal George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, it is time that we re-examine our safety protocols to ensure they align with our values.

I look to the day when everyone believes they can trust our front-line officers to save lives rather than take them.

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty tweeted, “I am at a total loss of words over the tragic killing of 16-year-old Ma’khia Bryant by the Columbus Police. My prayers are with her family and friends. Our community is hurting, has experienced too much heartbreak, and deserves better.”

“The systems that allowed George Floyd to be murdered remain FULLY intact. Moments after we celebrated a win for police accountability in Minneapolis, news broke that @ColumbusPolice murdered a 15 year old Black girl,” ACLU of Ohio tweeted. “Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. Say her name. #BlackLivesMatter”

“While the verdict was being read in the Derek Chauvin trial, Columbus police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old girl. Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. She should be alive right now. #MaKhiaBryant,” Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said on Twitter.

Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown shared her reaction to the shooting of Bryant on Twitter saying, “as the world awaited the Chauvin verdict, right here in our city a 16-year-old child Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by law enforcement. I am sickened. We need answers, and we will get answers.”

Body-camera video released from a responding officer shows Bryant appearing to try to stab two females when the officer fired, striking her.

Columbus Police and Ginther said it was important to share the video Tuesday night as quickly as possible. He said more information will be released in the hours and days ahead. They said information will be released as long as it does not compromise BCI’s investigation.

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