COLUMBUS, Ohio – Police shot and killed a young girl in Columbus on Tuesday just before a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of the death of George Floyd last year.
In an unprecedented move, Columbus police later showed body cameras of an officer who shot the girl, who was black, as she appeared to be trying to stab two people with a knife.
The video shows an officer approaching a driveway with a group of young people standing there. In the video, it appears that the teen, who was shot by police moments later, bumps into or swings a person who falls to the ground.
As the footage continues, the teen appears to be brandishing a knife at a girl who is on the hood of a car and the officer fires his gun, which sounds four times, and hits the girl.
A black-hilted blade that resembled a kitchen knife or steak knife appeared to be lying next to her on the sidewalk immediately after she fell.
Later on Tuesday evening, Franklin County Children’s Services confirmed that the girl killed was Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, and was in foster care.
Columbus police stressed that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into the case, but the city wanted to release the body camera to give more information to the public.
“It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It’s a terrible, heartbreaking situation,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, who previously urged residents to stay calm. “We felt transparency in sharing this footage, incomplete as it is at this point,” was critical.
Columbus interim police chief Michael Woods said officers were empowered to use lethal force to protect themselves or others. He said the investigation has yet to be completed to see if the officers’ actions are justified.
Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. urged the public to be patient as the investigation continues, and city officials again called for peace.
“She could be my grandson,” said Pettus. “Whichever way you look at it, it’s a tragedy.”
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The officers had responded to a stab attempt when the police shot the girl at around 4:45 p.m., the authorities said. The 911 caller reported a woman tried to stab her before hanging up, they said.
The girl was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead, police said. It is unclear if anyone was injured.
Hazel Bryant told The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network, that she is Ma’Khia Bryant’s aunt. The girl lived in a nursing home on Legion Lane and got into an argument with someone else at the residence, she said.
Bryant said her niece had a knife but claimed the girl dropped the knife before she was shot multiple times by a police officer.
‘Say your name’: Protests develop on location
A crowd had gathered at the crime scene in Legion Lane on Tuesday evening, which the police had partially closed to traffic. Others gathered at the city police headquarters to protest a week after officers sprayed pepper spray on a group that tried to enter headquarters after police killed a black man who had a gun in a hospital emergency room.
Hundreds of protesters pushed past police barriers in front of headquarters and approached officials as city officials showed the bodycam video inside. Many sang: “Say your name!” While others called the victim’s age by screaming, “She was just a child.” Officials with bicycles pushed the protesters back and threatened to use pepper spray on the crowd.
Protesters with Black Lives Matter signs, megaphones and a loudspeaker joined the crowd that had gathered behind the crime scene tape about half a block from the shooting range.
“We’re not allowed to celebrate,” said KC Taynor through a chauvinist megaphone. “… in the end you know what, you can’t be black.”
Kiar Yakita of the Black Liberation Movement said she was not surprised that another police shooting had taken place. “Why did you kill this baby?” she asked aloud.
Hana Abdur-Rahim of the Black Abolitionists Collective said, “We are in literal genocide. We are fighting for our lives.”
During a council committee hearing on Tuesday evening where members were able to meet candidates for a new civilian police review body to investigate the use of force by officers, council chairman Shannon Hardin announced that there had been another police shootout.
“We don’t know much about what it looks like, and when we saw the Minneapolis verdict, many spoke of the sigh of relief – but there’s a truth that there is no relief for so many in our community. That’s not in Okay, it’s not okay and can’t continue.
“We need to be as transparent as possible in learning more about the recent incident. But the truth is, nothing we are going to do is going to bring this young girl back. Nothing will stop the family.” Sadness. “
Hardin told panel members interviewed that the recent shootings show why the city needs a civil review body, “and we need to fundamentally rethink security in our city.”
“It definitely shows what you, each and every one of you, should be doing in our community: ensuring control, accountability and transparency of policing in our community,” he added.
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The Columbus shooting comes after Miles Jackson, a 27-year-old black man, was killed in an exchange of fire with officials at the Mount Carmel St. Ann Medical Center in Westerville, Ohio earlier this month. Columbus Police released body cameras of the incident last week and identified two officers involved in the shooting.
Contributors: Bethany Bruner, The Columbus Dispatch; The Associated Press.
Follow Mark Ferenchik on Twitter @MarkFerenchik.