A Black teenage girl was fatally shot by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer after she was seen on bodycam video appearing to use a knife against two female individuals.
On Tuesday, officers were called to the 3100 block of Legion Lane, north of Chatterton Road, just after 4:30 p.m. for a disturbance.
Interim Chief Michael Woods said at a press conference Tuesday night that a caller reported females were trying to stab them.
“A caller said females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them. Dispatchers tried to obtain information about weapons but were unable to gather that information,” Woods said. “Officers were dispatched at 4:36 [p.m.] and arrived at 4:44 [p.m.].”
Woods played a brief video that showed the altercation that led to the teenage girl — identified by her mother Paula and the Franklin County Children Services as Ma’Khia Bryant — being fatally shot.
“What the video shows is the female with a knife attempting to stab the first female that lands on the ground,” Woods said.
Per the video, the officer yells, “Hey, hey, hey, hey. Get down!” before Ma’Khia appears to lunge at a second girl with the knife.
“And then the second female that is pushed against the vehicle,” Woods added.
The officer tells Ma’Khia, “Get down! Get down! Get down! Get down!” and then fires four shots in her direction.
After one cop attends to Ma’Khia, officers assess her for injuries and then summon a medic.
Though officials identified her as 15 years old, both the FCCS and Paula said the girl was 16. The FCCS adds that she was a foster child in its care.
Later in the press conference, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther highlighted the tragedy of the incident.
“We know based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community,” Ginther said. “But a family is grieving tonight and this young 15-year-old girl will never be coming home.”
Following the fatal shooting, Paula described her daughter to TV station WBNS as a “very loving, peaceful little girl” who had a “motherly nature about her.”
“She promoted peace. That is something that I want to always be remembered,” Paula added.
“Ma’Khia had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace,” said the 16 year-old girl’s mother, Paula. pic.twitter.com/vhBauZn3Kc— Lacey Crisp (@LaceyCrisp) April 21, 2021
Hazel Bryant, identified by The Dispatch as Ma’Khia Bryant’s aunt, claims Ma’Khia got into an altercation with someone else at the foster home.
Per The Daily Beast, Hazel — who said she had been told of the events by Ma’Khia’s grandmother and biological father — claims several adult women had come to the foster home and started an altercation with Ma’Khia. Hazel said Ma’Khia called police, her biological father, and grandmother for help.
Hazel added that Ma’Khia grabbed a knife to defend herself.
Per The Dispatch, Hazel claims Ma’Khia dropped the knife before she was shot multiple times by a police officer.
A neighbor of Ma’Khia told CNN that the video of Ma’Khia’s death demonstrated she “was the aggressor.” However, the neighbor is unsure whether the cop’s lethal force was justified.
“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 anchor John Berman. “But I do know that with Ma’Khia having that lethal weapon in her hand, she did need to be stopped.”
As of this writing, police are not sure whether the two other individuals were injured in the event.
Woods says the officer who fatally shot Ma’Khia will be taken off the street as an investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office takes place.
These findings will then go to the Franklin County Grand Jury and then back to the police department for an internal review.