Her death happened shortly before Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict
Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic details of the shooting, alleged racism, and police brutality that may be disturbing to some readers.
On Tuesday, a teenage girl from Columbia was shot by a police officer who had arrived at the scene in response to a call about an attempted stabbing. The controversial bodycam footage shows one of the officers approaching a group in the driveway of a house. This is when a teenager moves swiftly towards another girl with what appears to be a knife. Within seconds, the girl falls to the ground and the officer is heard yelling, "Hey, hey, hey, hey. Get down!" But she doesn't stop and continued to lunge at a second girl with the knife. "Get Down! Get down! Get down! Get down!" the first officer is heard saying before firing four shots in the direction of the teenager. One cop immediately attends to the victim, assesses her for injuries, and calls for a medic.
If you analyze the video you can clearly see Ma'Khia Bryant attack 2 women with a large knife and if the cop didn't show up when he did there was a pretty good chance she would of stabbed 2 girls & all 3 lives would of been ruined— poetWOAgun (@poetWOAgun) April 22, 2021
But instead one life was lost but 2 were spared pic.twitter.com/jiuJfQ89rw
"Where is she hit?" one officer is heard asking in the video as another begins lifesaving measures. "Stay with us...Stay with us, Ma'Khia," he urges, according to CNN. The victim identified as Ma'Khia Bryant tragically passed away in the shooting that unfolded 30 minutes before the verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was delivered. The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave ever since. The incident is being investigated currently with officials urging local residents to remain calm after a crowd of demonstrators marched in downtown Columbus and headed towards the state Capitol building in protest late Wednesday afternoon. They chanted Ma'Khia Bryant's name, "Black lives matter" and "Hands up. Don't shoot."
"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," said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. "Bottom line: Did Ma'Khia Bryant need to die yesterday? 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 noted that state investigators would determine "if the officer involved was wrong, and if he was we will hold him accountable." The police department has identified the officer who fired the fatal shots at Ma'Khia as Nicholas Reardon, who joined in December 2019.
Language warning: Demonstrators are marching in the streets in the Short North area of Columbus. They are yelling, “she was a child” after police shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant. @10TV pic.twitter.com/IZf9lcDj8L— Angela Reighard (@AngelaReighard) April 21, 2021
In one of many police body camera videos, a man is heard telling the officer who fired shots, "She's a ---- kid. Damn, are you stupid?" After Ma'Khia falls down, the officer is heard justifying his actions saying, "She came at her with a knife." Interim Police Chief Michael Woods told reporters that if an officer is "faced with someone employing deadly force, deadly force can be the response." When questioned about their policy on the use of Tasers versus handguns, Woods refused to comment on the specific incident. However, he said, "If there's not deadly force being perpetrated on someone else at that time, an officer may have the opportunity to have cover distance and time to use a Taser."
An aunt of Ma’Khia Bryant explaining Columbus PD sh**ting and k*lling her after she called the police for help. She was 15 years old. This happened not long before the Chauvin verdict. It never ends… pic.twitter.com/S6CueZsu0a— Tae B (@Tae_LB) April 21, 2021
"But if those things are not present, and there's an active assault going on in which someone could lose their life, the officer can use their firearm to protect that third person," he added. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine praised Ginther's transparency in releasing the video of the incident and called the shooting a "horrible tragedy." During a briefing, he said, "You cannot get over the fact that you have a teenager who's dead and that's a horrible, horrible tragedy. We have to look at the facts. We should have enough compassion to worry about every child who is shot in our cities. And we should not accept it."
I keep crying because every time I see a video of Ma’Khia Bryant being a vibrant young girl I see my daughter represented and that shit kills me.— Austin Null (@AustinNull) April 22, 2021
My heart is so heavy for her family 😩
Ginther spoke to reporters on the day of the terrible incident and said, "based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community ... But a family is grieving tonight." The girl's mother told reporters, "Ma'Khia had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace. That is something that I want to always be remembered." As for the President of the Capitol City Lodge number 9 police union, Keith Ferrell, he explained, "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."
The same day, Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges against him in the killing of George Floyd. "As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting," wrote Floyd family attorney Ben Crump in a Twitter post. That being said, a neighbor of Ma'Khia said that the video of the girl's death showed that the teen "was the aggressor" in this case. "I can certainly see why the police officer chose to stop her. Now, whether or not less lethal force could have been used, whether or not a Taser could have been chosen instead of a gun -- I don't know," Ira Graham III told CNN. "But I do know that with Ma'Khia having that lethal weapon in her hand, she did need to be stopped."
Conservatives: The cops had to shoot Ma’Khia Bryant because she had a knife.— Alex Cole (@acnewsitics) April 21, 2021
Kyle Rittenhouse: pic.twitter.com/mGKclZhXlk
But her death has sparked debate on the contrasting treatment of Kyle Rittenhouse (and many other White people), who shot three people and two of them fatally last year, reports USA Today. Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin noted during a committee meeting on Tuesday that with the relief of Chauvin's trial verdict came the heartbreaking news of Ma'Khia's death. "There is a truth that for so many in our community there's no relief," he said, adding that Ma'khia's shooting has "put in stark view" we need police accountability and oversight.
Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, was fatally shot by a police officer in Ohio.— 🅲🅰🆃 ~ 2 Shots In My Arm & 2 Masks On My Face (@RememberMeYeah) April 22, 2021
The police in Ohio, who released body camera footage, said the girl had threatened two other girls, not the cop, with a knife before the officer opened fire.
Who says there’s no bias in policing?⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XY88O0NoSF
All I know is,— JerriLynn (@Jerri_Lynn25) April 21, 2021
Ma’Khia Bryant WAS 15 YEARS OLD & now she is dead.
But this 61 yr old grown ass man who hit a cop in the head with a hammer & dragged another cop w/ his car trying to flee, in the presence of another cop who had a rifle in his hand- LIVED.