Columbus, Ohio, officials on Wednesday released additional police body camera video of the fatal shooting of a Black teen who charged two females with a knife.
“We don’t yet have all of the facts but we do know that a 16-year-old girl, a child of this community, tragically died last night,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told reporters Wednesday.
“Bottom line: Did Ma’Khia Bryant need to die yesterday?” he added. “How did we get here? This is a failure on the part of our community. Some are guilty but all of us are responsible.”
Ginther said state investigators will determine “if the officer involved was wrong, and if he was we will hold him accountable.”
The girl’s mother, Paula Bryant, and the Franklin County Children Services had identified the girl as Ma’Khia Bryant.
In a series of clips from police body camera video, the girl is seen holding a knife during a tussle with another young woman. An officer at the scene opened fire when the girl appeared to attempt to stab a second woman.
“She’s a —- kid,” a man at the scene tells the officer after four shots were fired. “Damn, are you stupid.”
Ma’Khia fell to the ground, the knife by her side.
“She came at her with a knife,” the officer who fired his weapon is heard saying.
Ginther told reporters on Tuesday that “based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community … But a family is grieving tonight and this young 15-year-old girl will never be coming home.”
The shooting happened about 30 minutes before the verdict was delivered in the killing of George Floyd. A jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges against him.
“As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting,” Floyd family attorney Ben Crump tweeted.
And Ma’Khia’s killing comes at a time when police use of force around the nation — and in Columbus specifically — is under new scrutiny. In February, former Columbus police officer Adam Coy was indicted on charges related to the fatal shooting of Andre Hill, a 47-year-old Black man.
In Tuesday’s shooting, police received a call at 4:32 p.m. indicating “females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them,” Columbus Interim Police Chief Michael Woods said Tuesday night.
When police arrived, the first officer on the scene approaches a group in the driveway of a home, according to that officer’s bodycam footage.
The video shows a teen quickly move toward another girl with what appears to be a knife, and the girl falls to the ground. The officer yells, “Hey, hey, hey, hey. Get down!” before she appears to lunge at a second girl with the knife, according to the video.
The officer tells her to “Get Down! Get down! Get down! Get down!” and then fires four shots in the direction of the teenager.
One officer attends to the shooting victim, who police are not identifying. Officers assessed the girl for injuries and summoned a medic, as is protocol, Woods said.
“Ma’Khia had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace. That is something that I want to always be remembered,” Paula Bryant told TV station WBNS.
A neighbor of Ma’Khia Bryant told “New Day” that video of Ma’Khia’s death demonstrated that the teen “was the aggressor.”
“I can certainly see why the police officer chose to stop her. Now, whether or not less lethal force could have been used, whether or not a Taser could have been chosen instead of a gun — I don’t know,” Ira Graham III told CNN’s John Berman. “But I do know that with Ma’Khia having that lethal weapon in her hand, she did need to be stopped.”
Police did not have any information on whether the two other individuals were injured, Woods said.
The officer will be taken off the street while an investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office takes place, Woods said. The investigation then goes to the Franklin County Grand Jury and then back to the police department for an internal review, Woods said.
On Tuesday night, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin spoke of Ma’Khia’s death during a committee meeting to vet nominees for a new civilian review board that will oversee the city’s police force. He noted the collective “sigh of relief” that came with the Chauvin trial verdict in Minneapolis but added “there is a truth that for so many in our community there’s no relief.”
Ma’Khia’s death, Hardin said, “put in stark view” the need for police oversight and accountability.