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Ohio police release body-cam footage of the fatal shooting of teenager Ma’Khia Bryant

Body-cam image of a girl with a knife.
An image from a police body-camera video shows a teenage girl appearing to wield a knife during a fight before she was fatally shot by a police officer Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
(Columbus Police Department)

Body-camera video from other officers released Wednesday in the fatal police shooting in Ohio of a Black teenager who charged at two people with a knife showed a chaotic scene that happened shortly before the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial — and ignited renewed outrage over the use of lethal force by police.

Officials with the Columbus Division of Police had released initial video of the shooting Tuesday night just hours after it happened, which was a departure from protocol as the force faces immense scrutiny from the public following a series of recent high-profile police killings that have led to clashes.

The girl who was killed, Ma’Khia Bryant, was 16 and in foster care with Franklin County Children’s Services. Her grandmother Debra Wilcox described her as a shy and quiet girl who liked making hair and dance videos on TikTok.

“The fact that I see what I saw on that video is not how I know my Ma’Khia,” Wilcox told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “I don’t know what happened there unless she was fearful for her life.”

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Police shoot and kill a teenage girl Tuesday afternoon in Columbus just as the verdict is being announced in the trial for the killing of George Floyd.

The incident has caused an outcry in the community and nationwide as Ma’Khia’s killing is the second high-profile fatal shooting of a teenager by police in the last month. Body-cam footage released last week showed an officer shoot and kill 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.

“It’s a tragedy. There’s no other way to say it. It’s a 16-year-old. I’m a father,” interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods told reporters Wednesday. “Her family is grieving. Regardless of the circumstances associated with this, a 16-year-old lost her life yesterday.”

He added, “I sure as hell wish it wouldn’t have happened.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the Columbus shooting “tragic” and said that President Biden had been briefed on it.

“She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss,” Psaki said in a statement.

The 10-second body-camera clip begins with the officer, identified Wednesday as Nicholas Reardon, getting out of his car at a house where police had been dispatched after someone called 911 and reported being physically threatened, Woods said. It remains unclear who called 911.

The officer, who was hired by the force in December 2019, is seen taking a few steps toward a group of people in a driveway when Ma’Khia starts swinging a knife at another girl or woman, who falls backward. The officer shouts several times to get down.

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Ma’Khia then charges at another girl or woman, who is pinned against a car.

From a few feet away, with people on both sides of him, the officer fires four shots, and Ma’Khia slumps to the ground. A black-handled blade similar to a kitchen knife or steak knife falls next to her on the sidewalk.

A man immediately yells at the officer, “You didn’t have to shoot her! She’s just a kid, man!”

The officer responds, “She had a knife. She just went at her.”

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The race of the officer wasn’t clear, and he was taken off patrolling the streets for the time being.

Ma’Khia was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said. Police did not say whether anyone else was injured.

In the moments after the shooting, people on the street filmed as police roped off the area with yellow tape in front of the house where the shooting took place.

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A neighbor’s video shows an officer performing CPR on the teenager while a man can be heard yelling, “You all just jumped out of the ... car and shot her!”

Neighbors stood in open doorways filming and behind cars shaking their heads, videos showed.

Woods said state law allows police to use deadly force to protect themselves or others, and investigators will determine whether this shooting was such an instance.

Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is reviewing the killing after a recent agreement with the city.

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The shooting happened about 25 minutes before a judge read the verdict convicting former Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. It also took place less than five miles from where the funeral for Andre Hill, who was killed by another Columbus police officer in December, was held earlier this year. The officer in Hill’s case, Adam Coy, a 19-year veteran of the force, is now facing trial for murder, with the next hearing scheduled for April 28.

Cops like Derek Chauvin can’t continue to be the norm in America. Nor can a cop getting convicted for breaking the law continue to be the exception.

Less than three weeks before Hill was killed, a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. in Columbus. The case remains under federal investigation.

Last week, Columbus police shot and killed a man who was in a hospital emergency room with a gun on him. Officials are continuing an investigation into that shooting.

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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday that he watched the footage of Ma’Khia’s killing and called it a “horrible tragedy.”

He added that while the public has the video evidence, “we need to let the investigation play out.”

The Republican governor also detailed upcoming legislation to boost police accountability in the state and overhaul policing. An earlier version of the bill was introduced in the days after Floyd’s killing last May.

The new bill, to be introduced by GOP state Rep. Phil Plummer, would, among other things, establish an oversight board for law enforcement in the state. DeWine said the goal of the legislation is to increase transparency in the profession.


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