Sixteen-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant reportedly called the police herself, saying she was being threatened by “older kids,” her aunt, Hazel Bryant, told Ohio Statehouse News Bureau reporter Andy Chow. When Columbus police arrived at the scene, they saw a fight break out with several onlookers standing nearby. One of the officers drew his weapon and fired four times, fatally wounding Bryant. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition and declared dead soon after.
In response to an immediate public outcry, the Columbus police released an edited section of bodycam footage from the scene.
The clip shows an officer getting out of his car to see two people fighting in a driveway. Bryant pushes a girl to the ground, then grapples with a second girl while swinging a knife, pushing her against a car. The officer shouts, “Get down!” several times, and then fires four times. This whole altercation takes place over the course of about seven seconds.
Several onlookers are yelling or screaming nearby, and one says, “You didn’t have to shoot her! She’s just a kid, man!”
This video is too short to provide much context, and the scene unfolds quickly. In a matter of seconds, the officer decides to shoot without intervening in another manner.
As news of Bryant’s death spread on Tuesday evening, members of the community began to gather outside the Columbus police department, chanting Bryant’s name and holding up signs protesting police brutality.
People on social media are also drawing comparisons between Tuesday’s shooting and the Columbus police response to a destructive student party earlier this week. Attended by hundreds of Ohio State students, this party resulted in eight cars being flipped or destroyed and fires being set in the street. Police arrived on the scene but made no arrests—and used none of the “less-than-lethal” crowd control methods typically deployed at Black Lives Matter protest. Since the students were presumed to be primarily white, commenters are characterizing this as a racist double standard.
Columbus law enforcement officers are already facing scrutiny for other fatal shootings including Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man who was killed last December. A sheriff’s deputy shot him in the back five times while he was opening the door to his grandmother’s house.
The officer who shot Bryant hasn’t been identified by name, but the Columbus interim police chief says he will be “taken off the street” while the department investigates the shooting.
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