Columbus, Ohio, police release bodycam footage of officer fatally shooting Black teen

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Columbus officer shoots, kills girl holding knife

Columbus, Ohio police shot and killed a teenage girl Tuesday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio. Police bodycam video shows the officer shooting the girl, who was Black, as she appeared to attempt to stab two people with a knife. (April 21)

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Police shot and killed a teenage girl Tuesday in Columbus, just before a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd last year.

In an unprecedented move, Columbus police later showed body camera footage of an officer shooting the girl, who was Black, as she appeared to attempt to stab two people with a knife.

The video shows an officer approaching a driveway with a group of young people standing there. In the video, it appears that the teenager, who was moments later shot by police, pushes or swings at a person who falls to the ground.

As the footage continues, the teenager then appears to swing a knife at a girl who is on the hood of a car, and the officer fires his weapon what sounds like four times, striking the girl.

A black-handled blade resembling a kitchen knife or steak knife appeared to be lying on the sidewalk next to her immediately after she fell.

Later Tuesday night, Franklin County Children’s Services confirmed that the girl killed was Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, and that she was in foster care.

Columbus police stressed that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into the case, but the city wanted to release the body camera to give the public more information.

“It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It’s a horrible, heartbreaking situation,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, who had earlier urged residents to remain calm. “We felt transparency in sharing this footage, as incomplete as it is at this time” was critical.

Interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods said officers are authorized to use deadly force to protect themselves or a third party. He said the investigation still needs to be completed to determine if the actions of the officers were justified.

Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. urged the public to be patient as the investigation continues, and city officials again called for peace.

“She could be my grandchild,” said Pettus. “In any way you look at this, it’s a tragedy.”

Miles Jackson’s death: Ohio police release bodycam footage, ID officers from fatal hospital shooting of Black man

Officers had responded to an attempted stabbing call when police shot the girl at about 4:45 p.m., authorities said. The 911 caller reported a female was trying to stab them before hanging up, they said.

The girl was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said. It’s unclear whether anyone else was injured.

Hazel Bryant told The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network, that she is the aunt of Ma’Khia Bryant. The girl lived in a foster home on Legion Lane and got into an altercation with someone else at the residence, she said. 

Bryant said her niece had a knife, but maintained that the girl dropped the knife before she was shot multiple times by a police officer.

‘Say her name’: Protests develop at shooting scene

A crowd had gathered Tuesday night at the scene on Legion Lane, which police had partially blocked off to traffic. Others gathered at the city’s police headquarters to protest, a week after officers pepper-sprayed a group that tried to enter the headquarters over the police killing of a Black man who had a gun in a hospital emergency room.

Hundreds of protesters pushed past police barriers outside the headquarters and approached officers as city officials were showing the bodycam video inside. Many chanted, “Say her name!” While others signified the victim’s age by yelling, “she was just a kid.” Officers with bicycles pushed protesters back and threatened to deploy pepper spray on the crowd.

Protesters with Black Lives Matter signs, megaphones and a loudspeaker joined the crowd gathered behind crime scene tape about a half-block away from the shooting scene. 

“We don’t get to celebrate nothing,” K.C. Taynor said through a megaphone of the Chauvin verdict. “…In the end, you know what, you can’t be Black.”

Kiar Yakita of the Black Liberation Movement, said she is not surprised that another police shooting happened. “Why did they kill this baby?” she asked aloud. 

Hana Abdur-Rahim, with the Black Abolitionists Collective, said, “We are in a literal genocide. We are fighting for our lives.”

During a council committee hearing Tuesday evening that allowed members to meet nominees for a new police civilian review board to investigate officers’ uses of force, Council president Shannon Hardin announced that there had been another police shooting.

“We don’t know very much as it stands, and as we watched the verdict from Minneapolis many talked about the sigh of relief — but there is a truth that for so many in our community there is no relief. This is not alright, it’s not OK, and it can’t continue on.

“We’re going to need to have the utmost transparency as we go through and learn more (about the latest incident). But the truth is that nothing that we will do will bring this young baby girl back. Nothing will stop the family from grieving.”

Hardin told the panel members being interviewed that the latest shooting shows why the city needs a civilian review board, “and we need to fundamentally rethink safety in our city.”

“It certainly does put in stark view what you have been called to do in our community, each and every one of you: to provide oversight, accountability and transparency when it comes to policing in our community,” he added. 

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The shooting in Columbus comes after Miles Jackson, a 27-year-old Black man, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with officers at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s medical center in Westerville, Ohio, earlier this month. Columbus police released body camera footage of the incident last week and identified two officers involved in the shooting.

Contributing: Bethany Bruner, The Columbus Dispatch; The Associated Press.

Follow Mark Ferenchik on Twitter @MarkFerenchik.

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