Nicholas Reardon is the Columbus, Ohio, police officer and a former military expert marksman who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, authorities said in a news conference on April 21, 2021.
The mayor said in the press conference that there is an ongoing investigation into the “tragic death” of the teenager. Interim Police Chief Michael Woods released Reardon’s name. Woods said: “Our goal is to provide as much information as quickly as we can.” He said the state of Ohio is “conducting a criminal investigation into this incident.” They played three additional body cam videos. They also played two 911 calls.
“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.”
Bryant’s family has claimed that Bryant herself called police, but police said they couldn’t confirm or deny that.
On April 20, 2021, only hours after the shooting death, police and the mayor released some body cam video that showed Bryant attacking two other females before the officer shot her. Police say she was armed with a knife, and a knife was visible in her hand in some frames and on the ground after she was shot. However, outrage erupted on social media, with many citing the girl’s young age. Under the law, officers have a legal right to use lethal force to protect their life or the life of another from imminent harm. However, no official ruling has been made yet on the Bryant shooting.
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.”
Pettus 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?”
He urged the community not to “rush to judgment.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Body Cam Video Shows the Graphic Shooting Seconds After the Officer Arrived in the Middle of a Chaotic Fight Scene
You can watch the police body cam video above. 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 above video. The body cam video is played around 6:35.
Police said that the shot girl was a “female with a knife trying to stab” another person when shot. The body cam video shows Officer Reardon 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.
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. He said that “training is that you fire until you stop the threat.”
2. Reardon Is the Son of a Police Officer Who Trained Hundreds of New Recruits
According to Daily Beast, Reardon is the “son of the department’s longtime basic training sergeant.” Daily Beast says his father is retired Sgt. Ed Reardon. When he retired, Columbus police wrote, “CONGRATS ON YOUR RETIREMENT SGT. REARDON!💙 After training 700+ recruits at CPD’s Academy, Sgt. Ed Reardon is retiring w/32yrs. in law enforcement! Officers across Central Ohio will remember him for his ❤️ of Hallmark movies & his get in your face training.”
In 2020, police wrote on Facebook, “One of his son’s is currently a Columbus Police recruit.”
In the video, both the officer and a witness reference Bryant having a knife.
“She had a knife,” the officer says in the video. “She just ran at her.” A man responds, “She’s a f***ing kid, man.”
“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.”
Screenshots appear to bear this out; they show what appears to be a knife in the teenager’s hand as she rushes toward another female in a pink outfit next to a car. The body cam video frames also show the knife on the ground after Bryant was shot.
Reardon was filmed at the scene in live stream video streamed right after the shooting.
“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!!!!”
3. Reardon Has Been a Columbus Police Officer for Less Than Two Years
Nicholas Reardon is a fairly new police officer on the Columbus force. According to the city, Reardon has been on the force since December 2019. He was working a one-officer car. He was assigned to zone 2, second shift, the chief said.
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.’
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.”
Protests broke out in the city over the girl’s death, which occurred around the same time that the Derek Chauvin verdict was being read in Minneapolis. 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.
4. Reardon Is a Former High School Wrestler With a Military Background
Reardon served in the U.S. Air National Guard. According to the Daily Beast, he was “received an expert marksman badge with an M4 Carbine.” He was a wrestler at Bishop Watterson Catholic school in Columbus.
According to ABC6, the call came in around 3:45 p.m. April 20, 2021, in the 3000 block of Legion Lane in Columbus.
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.” Authorities clarified on April 21 in a news conference that the call came in as a disturbance – not an attempted stabbing as some stations reported.
However, the chief 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.
5. Bryant, a Foster Child, Was an Honor Roll Student, Her Mother Says
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.
Reporter Lacey 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.
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.”