The police killing of Ma’Khia Bryant raises the same questions

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MaKhia Bryant, 16, seen here with her mother Paula Bryant was gunned down April 20, by Columbus, Ohio police officer Nicholas Reardon, just moments before the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict was announced in Minneapolis. Bryant was engaged in an altercation at the foster home where she lived and allegedly was wielding a knife when she was shot to death by Reardon. The incident is being investigated.

By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
syoes@afro.com

As millions celebrated disgraced former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin being led out of a courtroom in handcuffs after being convicted of the murder of George Floyd, in Columbus, Ohio, a Black teenage girl was being gunned down by a White police officer under dubious circumstances.

Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, had reportedly called police for assistance because she believed she was going to be attacked by multiple young women.

According to WBNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Bryant’s mother Paula Bryant said her daughter made the initial 911 call.

“My daughter dispatched Columbus police for protection, not to be a homicide today,” she told a WBNS reporter with tears in her eyes. The teenager was staying in a foster home, however she and her mother saw each other last week. “We hugged each other. She said, `Mommy, I made honor roll.’ She said, `Mommy, I’m looking forward to coming home,’” Paula Bryant said.

But, tragically her daughter is never coming home again.

Columbus police held a press conference hours after the shooting on April 20, and released an extended portion of the body-worn camera video of the police officer (who has not been identified) who shot Bryant.

In the footage, several officers exit patrol cars to find a melee with Bryant, who was wielding what appeared to be a knife and at least two other young women. There were also adult males on the scene involved in the altercation. One of the adult males is seen kicking one of the young women who is on the ground. 

One of the young women had apparently been cut with the object that was in Bryant’s hand. The officer in question asks a bystander on the scene what’s going on as the brawl continues. When it appears Bryant is about to cut another young woman as the two grapple against a parked car, about 11 seconds into the video the police officer shoots Bryant in the torso. You don’t hear the cop who shot her identify himself as a police officer. He is heard saying seconds after he fires the shots that killed Bryant, “She had a knife, she just went at her.”  Other officers on the scene and then the officer who shot Bryant began to render aid to the teenager almost immediately after she fell to the ground.

During the subsequent press conference the same evening of the shooting, interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods said, “This is a tragedy for all involved, but especially the family of the female.” Woods also said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting and the officer who killed Bryant has been “taken off the street,” while the shooting is being investigated. After the investigation is concluded the results will be sent to a grand jury and a decision will be made whether or not the officer violated police policy