Warning: The story contains a graphic video that may be disturbing to some viewers. Discretion is advised.
On Tuesday afternoon, April 20, a 16-year-old girl identified as Ma’Khia Bryant was in an altercation with another girl in South Columbus, Ohio, when she was shot dead by officers at the scene.
Officials revealed that the police were responding to a call reporting violence at a given address. The police officer who shot Bryant has been put on paid administrative leave. He has been identified as Officer Nicholas Reardon.
The incident was capable of inciting violence relating to the recent defund police movement mainly endorsed by BLM activists.
Therefore, in an unconventional move on Wednesday, April 21, the Ohio police department decided to release the body footage of the moment Bryant and the police interacted.
According to Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods, following protocols, the footage should have been released much later. However, he added that “we understand the public’s need, desire, and expectation to have transparency upon what happened.”
“It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus. A horrible, heartbreaking situation,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther in a press conference, “I’m not just the mayor, I’m a father. The city of Columbus lost a 15-year-old girl today,” he continued.
Referring to the bodycam video, he said “we know based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community,” while having words of condolence to the teenager and her family.
The mayor also encouraged anyone with knowledge about the shooting or what contributed to it to contact the police.
In the footage, a commotion at the scene occurred, with Bryant holding a knife in her hand. Dressed in a black shirt and jeans, she was trying to stab another black girl, and she dropped down when the officer demanded her to “Get back!” She did not comply with the order and continued threatening with her knife to attack the other girl, who was pressed up against a car when the officer shot multiple times, putting Bryant down.
#BreakingNews COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Division of Police has released bodycam footage hours after the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old girl on the city’s southeast side by a police officer. pic.twitter.com/DMH9voSWrh
— Wisconsin Pop News (@PopNewsWI) April 21, 2021
The other officers rushed to her aid as she was lying with the knife nearby on the ground. She was taken to Mt. Carmel East in critical condition and died shortly before 5:30 p.m, reported ABC6.
The release of the footage seemed inadequate to appease the BLM community. In a protest later on Wednesday, the demonstrators continued to call her death a “murder.”
Columbus, Ohio: Despite police releasing body camera footage showing that #MakhiaBryant was trying to stab other black girls with a knife before getting shot by police, #BLM protesters continued to call her death a murder. pic.twitter.com/HPj7cwPWbo
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) April 21, 2021