April 2021

Ohio Police Shot Ma’Khia Bryant Around The Time Chauvin Was Convicted Of Murder

Courtesy of Now This
By Kavish Harjai
April 21, 2021

The Columbus, Ohio community is waiting for answers after police shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl, on Tuesday. The timing of Bryant’s death coincided with ex-police officer Derek Chauvin being convicted of murder nearly one year after killing George Floyd.

People have been demonstrating in Columbus since Tuesday night, chanting Bryant’s name and demanding police release body camera footage, which the department later did. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is investigating the shooting.

Bryant had been in foster care with Franklin County Children Services, which confirmed her death. Bryant’s mother Paula Bryant said the last time she saw her daughter was on Thursday.

“We hugged each other,” Paula Bryant told WBNS. “She said ‘Mommy, I made honor roll.’ She said ‘Mommy, I’m looking forward to coming home.’”

On Wednesday, The Lantern, Ohio State university’s independent student newspaper, tweeted a video of “around 400 demonstrators” gathered at the university’s student union building and sat in silence for 16 minutes — a tribute to Bryant’s age at the time of her death.

Columbus Police said they received and responded to a 911 call on April 20 about a potential stabbing, according to Interim Chief Mike Woods. Partial body camera footage released by police shows Officer Nicholas Reardon fire his weapon at Bryant after she appeared to attempt striking someone with a knife. Bryant was taken to Mount Carmel East Hospital after the shooting, where she died, according to multiple outlets. Reardon has been placed on administrative leave. Police have not identified who called 911.

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

Mayor Ginther added that the city will provide all other information it can as soon as it can, saying they need to be “careful of not compromising the investigation being conducted by BCI.”

Columbus’ Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. said at Wednesday’s press conference that he understands “the outrage and emotion around this incident.” He urged the public to be patient for BCI to complete its investigation.

“Fast facts should not come at the cost of complete and accurate facts,” Pettus said.

At a late-night press conference on Tuesday, Pettus, who is Black, said Bryant “could be my granddaughter.”

Stephanie Hightower, the president and CEO of the community-based nonprofit Columbus Urban League, released a statement Wednesday questioning Reardon’s use of force.

“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?” Hightower’s statement reads. “If this incident occurred in a white suburban neighborhood and teenage girls were fighting, would officers have chosen the same method to respond?”

Hightower said that while the BCI investigation is ongoing, “We need to ask ourselves if this is the kind of policing that our community needs and deserves.”

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin also called for change to the city’s policing practices on Wednesday.

“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,” Hardin said. “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.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden was briefed on the shooting.

“She was a child,” Psaki told reporters. “We’re thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss. We know that police violence disproportionally impacts black and Latino people in communities and that black women and girls, like black men and boys experience higher rates of police violence.”

Psaki added that the administration’s “focus is on working to address systemic racism and implicit bias head on” and that it is hoping to pursue legislation to reform policing across the country.