Ma’Khia Bryant is a 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer shortly before the Derek Chauvin verdict was announced, sparking growing protests. Police say she was armed with a knife, and they released body cam video showing her attacking two other girls.
The officer who shot and killed Bryant has been named as Nicholas Reardon, a former military marksman who is the son of the department’s retired recruit trainer.
You can watch the police body cam video below. Police played the graphic video during a press conference only a few hours after the shooting death. The police chief acknowledged it was unusual to release the video so fast, but he said it was being done in the interest of transparency. Be forewarned that the body cam video is very disturbing as it shows the moment the officer shot Bryant. The press conference starts at about five minutes into the below video. The body cam video is played around 6:35.
You can see a knife in her hand in the video.
Police said that the shot girl was a “female with a knife trying to stab” another person when shot. They haven’t formally named her. The body cam video shows the officer arriving to a chaotic fight scene, with Bryant attacking another female, who falls on the ground, before she moves toward a second woman near a car, police say with a knife. The officer then shoots her dead. Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. said his heart was breaking for the family, calling Ma’Khia’s death a tragedy. “She could be my grandchild,” said Pettus. “In any way you look at this, it’s a tragedy.”
The chief said that deadly force can be used to protect a third person. He said the shooting is under investigation. Authorities said they had “never been able to release video this fast,” but they felt it was important to be transparent by answering some questions as soon as possible. “She had a knife,” the officer says in the video. “She just ran at her.”
A neighbor’s surveillance video shows Bryant saying, “I’m gonna stab the f*** out of you, b****” before being shot.
The body cam video shows the knife on the ground after Bryant was shot. “She came after me,” the woman in pink tells an officer in a newly released body cam video. “She came after me,” she says. An officer asks, “With a knife?” The woman in pink responds, “Yeah, so he got her.”
Bryant’s name was confirmed by her family to ABC6 and other local news stations. The circumstances of the shooting are still under investigation. The shooting happened on April 20, 2021. Some sites gave her name as Makiah Bryant, Makiyah Bryant or Makhia Bryant, but her mother confirmed to 10TV reporter Lacey Crisp that the correct spelling is Ma’Khia Bryant. Other reports gave her age as 15, but her mother told local journalists she is 16.
A woman who said she was Bryant’s aunt expressed great anger at the scene, saying her niece was a loving person who didn’t deserve to die “like a dog in the street.” Disturbing videos emerged from the scene, some of which you can watch below, but be aware they are graphic. Protests broke out in the city over the girl’s death. [In Elizabeth City, NC, a man named Andrew Brown was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy in an unrelated incident on the morning of April 21, 2021, causing protests in that city as well.]
People shared TikTok videos of Bryant with the hashtag #SayHerName. Ned Pettus, the safety director, said he understands the “outrage and emotion around this incident. A teenage girl is dead and she’s dead at the hands of a police officer. Under any circumstances, that is a horrendous tragedy. But the video shows that there is more to this. It requires us to pause, take a close look at the sequence of events, and though it’s not easy, wait for the facts as determined by an independent investigation. We have to ask ourselves, what information did the officer have? What did he see? How much time did he have to assess the situation, and what would have happened if he had taken no action at all?”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Responded to a Call of an Attempted Stabbing; Ma’Khia’s Foster Mother Says the Argument Started Over an Unmade Bed
What sparked the fight in the first place? According to CNN, Ma’Khia’s foster mother, Angela Moore, says that the argument started between Ma’Khia and two other former foster children over a “messy house and unmade bed,” CNN reported. The other former foster children were there to celebrate Moore’s birthday.
“It was over keeping the house clean,” Moore said to CNN. “The older one told them to clean up the house because ‘Mom doesn’t like the house dirty.’ So that’s how it all started.” Moore told the network that Bryant said, “You’re not the guardian of me.”
Moore said: “They argue all the time,” Moore recalled, “but I never thought it would escalate like that.”
On April 21, 2021, Woods said the state of Ohio is “conducting a criminal investigation into this incident.” He played three additional body cam videos. He also played two 911 calls.
Watch the newest body cam videos here.
“Officers attempted life-saving measures almost immediately after the shots were fired,” said Woods.
In the first 911 call, you can hear chaos in the background. “Get here now!” a female says, telling the dispatcher, “We got…girls here trying to fight us, trying to stab us, trying to put her hands on our grandma. We need a police officer here now.” In the second 911 call, a different female says, “Oh never mind the police are already here. Never mind thank you.”
Bryant’s family has claimed that Bryant herself called police, but police said they couldn’t confirm or deny that. Here’s video of the press conference, which contains the 911 calls and additional body cam video. Police said they couldn’t give more details on the other females involved in the situation.
According to ABC6, the call came in around 3:45 p.m. April 20, 2021, for an attempted stabbing in the 3000 block of Legion Lane in Columbus. 10TV wrote that police responded for a disturbance.
Michael Woods, interim chief of police, said, “normally we don’t provide information this soon, but we understand the public’s need, desire and expectation to have transparency about what happened.”
Watch the newest body cam videos here.
A reporter asked Woods when an officer should use a taser instead of a gun. Woods said, “When officers are faced with someone employing deadly force, deadly force can be the response the officer gives.” He said a taser can be used if the officer has “cover, distance, and time to use a taser.” But if those things aren’t present, and there’s an “active assault” going on that could threaten someone’s life, the officer can use a gun.
He said that, at 4:32 p.m., officers were dispatched to the address after a caller said “females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them.” There was a “large commotion going on in the background” in the 911 call.
“The caller reported a female was trying to stab them, then the caller hung up,” The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Crisp wrote, “Paula Bryant tells me her 16 year-old daughter Ma’Khia Bryant was an honor roll student and a sweet child. Ma’Khia was shot and killed by a Columbus Division of Police officer on Legion Lane at 4:30p today.” On Facebook, Paula Bryant says she’s a nursing assistant.
“As a family we are all saddened by the tragic and unnecessary death of Ma’Khia,” cousins Don Bryant and Deja Torrence said, according to CNN. “She was loved by many. … We want to remind everyone Ma’Khia was only a 16 year old teenage girl.”
“This is the racist a** b**** that shot this poor f****** girl,” a woman said in a live stream video on Facebook. She said the officer said the girl “tried to stab him.”
“That’s someone’s f****** daughter b****,” the woman said in a graphic live stream. You can watch it here and below, but be aware it’s disturbing.
A woman’s sobbing is heard in the video.
Here’s more video from the scene. Again, it contains graphic language.
Tay Jones who posted the videos to her Facebook page, claimed in one post, “They shot a 15 year old black girl 4 times in the chest f*** 12!!!” She claimed Facebook removed a post in which she wrote, “this is the f****** that shot her her 4 times in the chest for having a knife because somebody tried to jump her didn’t tell her to put it down didn’t ask questions or nothing & SHE the one called them for help. Smh F*** 12!!!!”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote on Twitter: “While the verdict was being read in the Derek Chauvin trial, Columbus police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old girl. Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. She should be alive right now.”
2. Bryant’s Family Says She Called Police for Help But Neighbors Have Defended the Officer
According to 10TV, Bryant’s family says the teen “called the police for help because girls were fighting outside her house.”
Police declined to confirm or deny who called police. The officer’s name has not been released and the situation is still under investigation. The officer will be kept off the streets during the investigation, which is standard protocol.
Neighbor Ira Graham defended the officer to the Columbus Dispatch. “I believe in truth and facts. Video doesn’t lie,” he said. “She was in full attack mode.”
Bryant “was literally aiming a knife at this young lady,” Graham said of the pink-clad female. “She needed to be stopped at that point. That young lady’s life was at stake.” He saw the knife in his own surveillance video, which captured the shooting.
Donovan Brinson, another neighbor, told the newspaper it all happened too fast for the officer to have taken another action.
Ma’khia showed a joy for life in her many TikTok videos. Here’s one:
Ma’Khia’s Facebook page contains a couple selfie-style photos and videos.
Ma’Khia’s mother told Crisp: “Ma’Khia had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace.”
3. Bryant Was a Foster Child Under the Care of Franklin County Children Services
Franklin County Children Services released a statement saying that Bryant, 16, was a foster child who was under the care of the Franklin County Children Services. “This was a tragic incident and FCCS is continuing its involvement with the family throughout this difficult time,” the release says, naming Bryant and saying she was fatally shot in Southeast Columbus.
The girl’s aunt, Hazel Bryant, told The Dispatch that Bryant lived in a foster home and “got into an altercation with someone else at the home.” She said Ma’Khia had a knife but alleged she dropped it before being shot multiple times by a Columbus police officer.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther confirmed the girl had died. “This afternoon a young woman tragically lost her life. We do not know all of the details. There is body-worn camera footage of the incident. We are working to review it as soon as possible. BCI is on the scene conducting an independent investigation,” he wrote on Twitter, “as they do with all CPD-involved shootings. We will share information that we can as soon as it becomes available. I’m asking for residents to remain calm and allow BCI to gather the facts.”
Just over an hour before, the mayor was weighing in on the Chauvin verdict after a jury found him guilty, including of the most serious charge of second-degree unintentional murder, in the death of George Floyd.
“This verdict is the best outcome following the tragic and unnecessary loss of life. It brings some measure of justice for those who knew and loved George Floyd, but it will not restore his life,” wrote Ginther. “Nor will it erase the centuries of racial injustice that continues to plague our nation. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ Today the system worked.”
4. People Expressed Great Upset at the Scene
Videos showed people expressing great anger at police at the scene. One man demanded to know whether there was bodycam video; that was before it was released.
“We’re sick of being peaceful,” a man told police. “No more being peaceful.”
People used expletives at police at the scene.
Crisp wrote on Twitter, “There will be a 10:30p briefing by @ColumbusPolice on the fatal shooting today. Police will be showing body-camera video.”
Mayor Andrew Ginther said, “We don’t yet have all of the facts, but we do know that a 16 year old girl, a child in this community, tragically died last night.”
He said the “bottom line. Did Ma’Kiah Bryant need to die yesterday? How did we get there. This is a failure in part of our community. Some are guilty, but all of us are responsible. BCI will determine if the officer involved was wrong and if he was we will hold him accountable…we have a bigger societal question. How do we as a city and community come together to ensure that our kids never feel the need to resort to violence as a means to solving disputes or to protect themselves.’
5. Bryant’s Aunt Called Her a ‘Good Kid’ Who ‘Didn’t Deserve to Die Like a Dog in the Street’
A woman who said she was Bryant’s aunt described her as a good person and expressed great anger at her death. Be forewarned the video contains expletives.
“You ain’t going to have my niece go out like that. Either you report the truth or you don’t report nothing,” she told reporters at the scene.
“She was a good kid. She was loving. Yeah she had issues, but that’s okay. All of us go through s***. She was 15 motherf****** years old. She didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street.”