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People In Columbus Gather To Protest Shooting Of Black Teenage Girl

Apr 22, 2021
Originally published on April 22, 2021 6:17 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Protesters marched last night in Columbus, Ohio, after an officer shot a 16-year-old.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) She was a child.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) She was a child.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Ma'Khia Bryant.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Ma'Khia Bryant.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Say her name.

INSKEEP: Ma'Khia Bryant was involved in a fight on Tuesday, according to 911 calls. Her aunt says Ma'Khia called police for help. Body cam video shows Officer Nicholas Reardon getting out of his car, and the video shows Ma'Khia Bryant with a knife, which she raises as if to plunge into another person. The officer yells, get down and then fires his weapon. NPR's Frank Morris is in Columbus. Frank, good morning.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: We've heard a little bit about the case there, but work us through the evidence as it stands today. I know each day we're learning a little more.

MORRIS: We're learning more because police released more video of the incident last night. This is a body camera footage from another one of the responding officers, so it's a different vantage point. The Columbus Police Department was quick to release initial body cam footage from Officer Nicholas Reardon who fired his gun. The videos show officers responding to a disturbance on a residential street that seemed to be centered around Ma'Khia Bryant. Seconds after officers showed up, Bryant is shown lunging at a woman who falls. Reardon pulls his gun and yells. Then Bryant turns to another woman, rearing back with what police say was a knife in her hand, as the woman cowers on the side of a car. And then not 15 seconds into the encounter, Reardon fired several shots, killing Bryant. Interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods wouldn't comment on the killing because it's being investigated by state authorities. But at a press conference yesterday, he did say that officers are trained to respond in kind.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

MICHAEL WOODS: When officers are faced with someone employing deadly force, deadly force can be the response the officer gives.

INSKEEP: So that's the information and the explanation, I guess would be the word, that police are giving. How are people responding on the streets?

MORRIS: Well, as you mentioned, there were several protests last night. I went to one in the street in front of police headquarters in downtown Columbus and saw Tonay Daniel looking on with tears in her eyes.

TONAY DANIEL: It isn't going to change anything overnight, but I think that it makes them see us in a different light. We're not animals. We're just asking for a little bit of peace and normalcy.

MORRIS: Daniel says she lives a couple of blocks from where Ma'Khia Bryant was staying with her foster family. She believes that Bryant struggled, like most teenagers do, with, you know, various kinds of problems. But she believes - she certainly doesn't believe she deserved to die.

INSKEEP: Are there other incidents that make people concerned in Columbus?

MORRIS: Yeah, there have been quite a number. The Columbus Dispatch reports there have been five killings of Black people by police just since May. And there are two really striking ones. In December alone, Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old, was killed in his Columbus doorway and another man was killed also by Columbus police officers in December.

INSKEEP: Frank, thanks very much.

MORRIS: You bet, Steve. Thanks.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Frank Morris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.