Shortly before Judge Peter Cahill handed down a guilty verdict in Minnesota against Derek Chauvin, a young Black teenage girl was shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio police officer. Sixteen-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was identified by family after officers responded to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing.
Within moments of the as-yet-to-be named officers arriving on the scene, body camera footage released late Tuesday evening showed an in-progress altercation where three girls appeared to be fighting. Bryant is seen swinging a knife at another girl, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
An officer yells, “Get down! Get down!” and then fires his weapon several times, while someone yells off-camera, “she’s just a fucking kid, man!” Further, an officer was caught in a Facebook video shouting “Blue Lives Matter” to a group of shocked residents at the scene. One of the residents can be seen reacting angrily, saying: “Blue Lives Matter? Crazy. That’s an insult, especially at this place right now.”
Separately, The Washington Post reported Tuesday evening that another cop on the scene was wearing a “Blue Lives Matter” face mask.
Bryant was transported to Mount Carmel East, but died as a result of her injuries sustained in the shooting. The Columbus police department contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to review the officer’s use of deadly force, and the officer will be “taken off the street,” according to interim police chief Michael Woods. “This is a tragic incident for all involved but especially for the family of [Ma’Khia Bryant],” Woods said. No questions were answered relating to whether the officer attempted any de-escalation efforts before firing his gun, as Chief Woods said he had not interviewed the officer involved.
A varying version of events are now at the center of the matter as Bryant’s family is saying that the 16-year-old was trying to defend herself after being confronted by a group of other women. “She was a good kid. She was loving,” Hazel Bryant, aunt to Ma’Khia Bryant, told reporters. “She was 15 years old [Bryant’s mother later clarified that she was 16]. She didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street.”
Also according to Bryant’s aunt, Ma’Khia had been living in a foster home on the east side of Columbus, where the fatal shooting took place. Several adult women allegedly had come to the foster home and started an altercation with the teenager, who called police, and her biological father and grandmother for help. “Ma’Khia grabbed a knife to defend herself,” Hazel Bryant said. “Police shot her four times without warning.”
A woman identified as Tay Jones wrote on Facebook that she had witnessed the shooting and posted a video purportedly from the scene. She said the 16-year-old had a knife “because somebody tried to jump her.” The white police officer who shot her never told her to put down the knife, according to Jones.
“The police are going to lie. I’m so thankful that someone from the family was actually on the scene,” Bryant said before the release of the bodycam footage. “They don’t care. At this point, I feel like they’re just out to kill Black people. They’re not here to protect and serve. That isn’t happening. That’s been over a long time ago.”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bryant’s great-grandmother Ila Bryant compared the teenager’s death to that of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed during a no-knock raid on her apartment in March 2020. “It looks like to me like that’s what the police wanted to do, to kill her,” she said. “I’m just trying to figure out why. We have to remember that we should love each other.”
About 100 people gathered in downtown Columbus late Tuesday to protest the shooting. They chanted, “Say her name! Ma’Khia Bryant!” and “Black Lives Matter!”
This is a still-developing story.
Earlier reports stated Ma’Khia Bryant was 15. The story has been updated.