Officer identified in fatal police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, who attacked 2 with knife

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (NewsNation Now) — The fatal police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenager seen on video charging at two people with a knife, came within minutes of the verdict in George Floyd’s killing — causing unrest by some over the continued use of lethal force by Columbus police.

An initial 10-second video was released Tuesday night. Authorities released 911 calls and more body worn camera video during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, one day after the fatal shooting of the 16-year-old girl by a Columbus police officer.

According to Columbus Police, the officer is Nicholas Reardon, who has been on the force for approximately 18 months.

Interim Chief Michael Woods began Wednesday’s press conference by saying his goal is to provide as much information as quickly as he can. Two 911 calls were played.

During the first 911 call, the caller said there were girls trying to stab them. Other voices are heard in the background. The second caller told the dispatcher that police had already arrived, shortly after it was answered.

Officials with the Columbus Division of Police released footage of the shooting just hours after it happened, a departure from the 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 bodycam footage shows Reardon shooting the girl as she appeared to attempt to stab two people with a knife.

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know a 16-year-old girl tragically died last night,” Mayor Andrew Ginther said Wednesday. “The bottom-line: Did Ma’Khia Bryant need to die yesterday? How did we get here? This is a failure on part of our community; some are guilty but all of us are responsible. The Bureau of Criminal Investigation will determine if the officer involved was wrong and if he was we will hold him accountable.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine addressed the shooting Wednesday afternoon and said his “heart goes out” to the teen’s family.

Mayor Ginther said police cruiser footage of the incident will be released later Wednesday or Thursday morning.

“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,” Woods said. “If those things aren’t 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.”

An independent investigation of the shooting is being conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

A 10-second bodycam clip released Tuesday night begins with the officer getting out of his car at a house where police had been dispatched after someone called 911 saying they were being physically threatened, Woods said Tuesday evening. The officer takes a few steps toward a group of people in the driveway when the girl starts swinging a knife at another girl or woman, who falls backward. The officer shouts several times to get down.

The girl with the knife then charges at another girl or woman who is pinned against a car.

From a few feet away, with people on either side of him, the officer fires four shots, and the teen slumps to the ground. A black-handled blade similar to a kitchen knife or steak knife lies on the sidewalk next to her.

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.”

Woods said the video shows the officer acted to save the life of another young girl.

The girl was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said. It remains unclear if anyone else was injured. Family members identified the victim as a 16-year-old. Authorities said the victim was 15-year-old.

The girl was identified as 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, according to Franklin County Children Services, which said in a release that she was under the care of the agency at the time of her death.

The statement said Bryant was a foster child under the care of Franklin County Family Services, calling her death “a tragic incident,” adding the organization is continuing its involvement with the family.

Columbus Police confirmed that it has requested the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) respond to the scene. BCI is often tasked with investigating shootings involving police officers. State law allows police to use deadly force to protect themselves or others, and investigators will determine whether this shooting was such an instance Woods explained.

Mayor Ginther said at Tuesday night’s news conference, “We know based on this footage the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community.” He also called Bryant’s death a “tragedy.”

The shooting happened about 25 minutes before a judge read the verdict convicting former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Floyd.

The shooting lead to marches around Columbus Tuesday night.

A crowd 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 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.

Wednesday night students at Ohio State University staged a protest over Bryant’s death.

Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family in their civil case against the city of Minneapolis, tweeted about the shooting saying, “As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting.”

Kimberly Shepherd, 50, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years, said she knew the victim.

“The neighborhood has definitely went through its changes, but nothing like this,” Shepherd said of the shooting. “But this is the worst thing that has ever happened out here and unfortunately it is at the hands of police.”

Shepherd and her neighbor Jayme Jones, 51, said they had celebrated the guilty verdict of Chauvin. But things changed quickly, she said.

“We were happy about the verdict. But you couldn’t even enjoy that,” Shepherd said. “Because as you’re getting one phone call that he was guilty, I’m getting the next phone call that this is happening in my neighborhood.”

Editor’s note: It was previously reported the victim’s name was Makiyah Bryant. That is incorrect. Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant.

NewsNation affiliate WCMH and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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