Video Footage Shows A Police Officer Fatally Shooting A Teen Girl Seconds After Arriving To The Scene
The shooting occurred after officers responded to a 911 caller who said someone was trying to stab and fight them, police said.
A teenage girl was fatally shot by police in Ohio Tuesday afternoon, minutes before a judge announced that a jury found former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.
The Columbus Division of Police dispatched officers at 4:36 p.m. after a 911 caller said someone was trying to stab and fight them. Officers arrived at 4:44 p.m., and a body-worn camera from the first officer at the scene shows a group of people, including several teen girls, standing outside a house.
As the officer asked what was going on, one girl pushed another to the ground, then pushed another against a car. At a news conference Tuesday night, interim police Chief Michael Woods showed a slowed-down version of some of the footage. In it, a knife is visible in the girl's hand.
The officer yelled "get down, get down" multiple times, then fired four gunshots — just 10 seconds after he got out of his police car.
The girl slumped to the ground, and the people around her erupted in screams.
"Is she shot?" one woman cried.
"She had a knife," the officer said.
"She's a fucking kid, man," a man replied.
The girl was 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant, the Columbus Dispatch reported, citing Franklin County Children's Services, which told the Dispatch that Bryant lived in a foster home.
A woman who identified herself as the girl's aunt, Hazel Bryant, told reporters earlier in the evening that her niece got into an altercation with someone else at the foster home, the Dispatch reported. According to the Daily Beast, the girl's aunt said the teen called police, as well as her father and grandmother, for help and grabbed a knife to defend herself.
“She was a good kid. She was loving,” Hazel Bryant said. “Yeah, she had issues but that's OK. All of us go through shit. ... She didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street.”
The girl's mother, Paula Bryant, told reporters her daughter was an honor-roll student and a sweet kid.
Video shared on social media showed a person wearing jeans and brightly colored shoes lying in the street at the feet of a police officer. The bodycam video showed police rendering first aid.
Woods said Tuesday night that he did not have information that anyone else at the scene had been injured.
Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation is now conducting a criminal investigation into what happened. Once that concludes, Woods said his department will also review officers' actions at the scene.
Mayor Andrew Ginther on Tuesday told reporters the city would be providing as much information as quickly as it could while protecting the independence of the state investigation. He added he felt grief about what happened as a father.
“The city of Columbus lost a 15-year-old girl today. We know based on this footage the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community,” he said. “But a family is grieving tonight. And this young, 15-year-old girl will never be coming home.”
Protesters quickly gathered at the scene to express their outrage over the shooting.
Holding a sign saying "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH," Malissa Thomas-St. Clair, founder of Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children, explained to a Spectrum News 1 Ohio reporter the whiplash of emotions she felt learning of the guilty verdict in the Chauvin trial, then of the killing of another person at the hands of police.
"It is absolutely devastating that I am driving home from an appointment in elation, honking my horn in jubilation, filled with hope in thinking there's maybe a turn that the nation deserves, and then simultaneously all of those feelings of positivity brought down to devastation in the blink of an eye is devastating," Thomas-St. Clair said.
A crowd also gathered outside the city’s police headquarters Tuesday evening and chanted Bryant’s name.