16-year-old fatally shot after calling 911 in Columbus

The foster teen was shot four times after a police office witnessed her swing a knife at another young woman


Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

The memorial at the site where Bryant was killed in Columbus, OH

Mya Collins, News Writer

Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old foster teen in Columbus, Ohio, was fatally shot by Officer Nicholas Reardon on April 20 after officers responded to a 911 call just minutes after the historic verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd. 

Eleven seconds after Officer Reardon arrived at the scene, four shots were fired at her in the body-camera footage that was released almost immediately after the incident. Black Lives Matter activists immediately responded with outcry at what they claimed was another Black life taken at the hands of law enforcement.

Alongside the body-camera footage, two 911 call recordings and additional footage was released showed the altercation between Bryant and two other young women in progress when Reardon arrived at the scene.

“These grown girls over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us,” the 911 call the officers responded to said. 

Although Bryant’s family told CBS that she called 911 for help, Interim Police Chief Michael Woods declined a comment on who made the call. 

“Hey! Hey! Get down! Get down!” Officer Reardon is heard saying in the body-camera footage as he pulls out his gun after Bryant lunges at one woman causing her to fall and then at another with what appears to be a knife in her hand. 

Woods held a press conference on April 21 to offer his condolences to the Bryant family and expressed “the public’s need, desire and expectation to have transparency.”

“It’s a tragedy. There’s no other way to say it,” Woods said. “It’s a 16-year-old girl. I’m a father, her family is grieving. Regardless of the circumstances associated with this, a teenage girl lost her life yesterday.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther proceeded to speak at the press conference where he, too, emphasized the importance of providing the public with as much information as possible. 

“We know from this footage that the officer took action to protect another young girl in the community,” Ginther said. “We think it’s critically important to share as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. So, we’ll continue to share footage, other information in the hours and days ahead.”

The investigation is underway as the footage is analyzed to determine if the deadly force Reardon used against Bryant was justified. At the time of publication of this piece, the investigation has continued, and there are no new developments. 

“[If] you don’t shoot, the one young lady — she stabs the other one and she dies,” Former Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey said. “But he had no other alternative, in my mind, other than to take some action because of what was going on. The young lady who was shot was clearly the aggressor in this case.”

The New York Times has begun an investigation into the Ohio foster care system, which places children into foster care at a rate 10 percent higher than the national average. Bryant is heard on the 911 call from April 20 saying to the dispatcher, “I want to leave this foster home,” over and over again. 

Undoubtedly the loss of another Black life as the result of an interaction with law enforcement will lead to continued unrest. BLM activists hope to to have more answers in the coming weeks.