On the day that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was served justice for killing George Floyd, a similar tragedy in Ohio was unfolding. Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Columbus girl, was shot several times by police responding to an incident on Tuesday (April 20).
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Bryant, a resident of a foster home in the city’s Southeast Side, was involved in some manner of altercation with another girl at the home. According to still developing reports, a 911 call was made to the police, who came to handle a situation that involved an alleged attempted stabbing. Bryant was said to be armed with a knife, but according to a family member, dropped the knife once police arrived at the scene.
Columbus police officials released bodycam footage of the incident, which will not be shared via this post, depicting the scene of when the officers arrived at the driveway of the home and encountered a throng of young people. From the depiction of the clip from the outlet, a person assumed to be Bryant took a swing at another girl then fell to the ground after an officer fired their weapon at least four times in her direction. Bryant died shortly after she was struck.
“It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It’s a horrible, heartbreaking situation,” Mayor Andrew J. Ginther offered in a statement to the press and public. “We felt transparency in sharing this footage, as incomplete as it is at this time.”
Bryant’s aunt, Hazel Bryant, seemingly confirmed that her niece did indeed have a weapon in her hand but that she dropped the knife when police approached the scene.
News of Bryant’s shooting and death spread quickly just as many around the nation found relief and some slightly renewed trust in the legal system after Chauvin’s guilty verdict. That joy was short-lived and Black Lives Matter protesters and others from the neighborhood gathered near the scene of the shooting.
Breaking the usual format of our reporting, we’d like to express a thought, perhaps a hope, in regards to how police are seemingly armed at the ready to snuff out Black lives. By no means can we actually know what goes through an officer’s head during a heated moment, but they’re supposedly trained to use force as a last resort.
It is baffling to consider that Bryant, a teenaged girl, could strike such fear in an armed cop’s heart that their first instinct is to kill. Yes, there’s danger in getting physical with an armed individual but based on photos and videos of Bryant that have surfaced, she wasn’t some hulking figure that needed to be gunned down in the street.
The reactions to Ma’Khia Bryant’s death have been high considering the recent turn of events with police officers and Black lives. We’ve got those reactions below.
May Ma’Khia Bryant rest powerfully in peace.