‘A Horrendous Tragedy’: The Chaotic Moments Before a Police Shooting in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Law enforcement posted 911 calls and new body camera videos on Wednesday depicting the chaotic moments associated with the murder of a black 16-year-old girl who was fatally shot by a Columbus police officer while answering a call responded because of a malfunction.

Michael Woods, the interim chief of the Columbus Police Division, identified police officer Ma’Khia Bryant as Nicholas Reardon and said he had been on duty since December 2019. The white police officer Reardon has been on administrative leave when the shooting is being investigated.

Ms. Bryant was killed less than an hour before a Minneapolis jury pronounced her guilty verdict on Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, and her death outside her nursing home on a suburban block in southeast Columbus quickly sparked waves of anger and protests against Police killings.

Officials in Columbus asked the public for patience on Wednesday as they released new body camera footage from three responding officers that appears to show Ms. Bryant walking with a knife on a person dressed in pink seconds before the officer takes her shot four times.

“A young girl is dead and she is dead in the hands of a policeman. It is a terrible tragedy by any means, ”said Ned Pettus Jr., director of public safety for the city of Columbus, during a press conference Wednesday. “But the video shows that there is more to it. It requires that we pause, look closely at the sequence of events and, although not easy, wait for the facts to be determined by an independent investigation. Pettus said a third-party investigation conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation must answer important questions, including what information the officer had, what he saw on the spot, and what would have happened if he “hadn’t taken action.” all.”

Chief Woods says officials are allowed to use lethal force to protect someone who is at risk of being killed by another person. A taser is generally reserved for situations in which there is no immediate danger of death.

Chief Woods said officers had been called to interfere but were unaware that a possible stab attempt could take place. He also said that officials are under no obligation to notice that they are about to fire their gun, although they will try when there is time.

The shooting came after 911 dispatchers received a call at 4:32 p.m. on Tuesday from a caller yelling that someone tried to stab her. Screams could be heard in the background. The 911 dispatcher asked the caller if he saw guns.

“We need a policeman here now,” the caller replied.

Following Ms. Bryant’s murder, activists and neighbors asked if the officer could have used a less lethal weapon, including a taser, or some other tactic to break up the chaotic scene that could have ended with Ms. Bryant alive.

A protest was planned on Wednesday in front of the police headquarters.

“They haven’t de-escalated the situation,” said DeJuan Sharp, an organizer of a local Black Lives Matter group called Downtownerz. “I don’t know why the gun was the first thing he used.”

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