16-year-old girl fatally shot by police in Ohio


(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Police have identified the 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer Tuesday afternoon while he responded to a fight between several girls in a residential neighborhood.

Columbus police responded to 911 calls of a disturbance at 4:30 p.m. local time, with the first officer getting out of his patrol car, approaching the fight and opening fire just seconds later.

The victim was identified late Tuesday as Ma'Khia Bryant. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition and pronounced dead just before 5:30 p.m. The Franklin County Children Services said Bryant was a foster child under its care.

Interim Police Chief Michael Woods identified the officer who shot Bryant as Nicholas Reardon during a press conference Wednesday. He has been with the department since December 2019.

On Wednesday, police shared three new videos from body camera footage of the incident and released audio of the two 911 calls police received from the scene.

Footage from Reardon's body camera shows him exit a police car and approach a scuffle between Bryant and two other girls. In a matter of seconds the cop shoots at Bryant, who appeared to have a knife in her hand, when she lunged toward another girl. He fired what sounded like four shots. A second officer is seen rushing to her side after she fell to the ground.

"She had a knife, she just went at her," Reardon is heard saying in the footage.

"She's just a f------- kid," one bystander at the scene yelled after the shots rang out.

A statement released on behalf of the Bryant family and Ma'Khia's mother, Paula, said they wanted to "respectfully request justice for Ma'Khia Bryant."

"As a family we are all saddened by the tragic and unnecessary death of Ma’Khia," Paula and the Bryant family said in a statement to ABC News. "She was loved by many and had family throughout both Mansfield and in Columbus, Ohio. Ma’Khia was a good student, a good person, and did not deserve what happened to her. We want to remind everyone Ma’Khia was only a 16-year-old teenage girl. We are deeply disturbed by the disproportionate and unjustified use of force in this situation."

The first 911 call came in at 4:32 p.m. In the audio, screaming is heard in the background and a female voice is heard telling dispatchers, "These girls over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us, put their hands on us. Get here now! We need a police officer over here now!" The second caller said police were already at the scene.

The second body camera footage played Wednesday shows an officer arriving to the scene moments before Reardon opened fire and later placing at least three people, including the girls involved in the fight, into police cars. No one was arrested at the scene.

The third officer's footage shows him responding to Bryant after she was shot and an officer starting to perform chest compressions on her.

"Wake up ma'am. Stay with us," an officer is heard saying in the footage.

Woods said Wednesday two police officers performed lifesaving measures on Bryant and a medic was called 90 seconds after shots were fired. The medic arrived six minutes after the shooting and Bryant was transported to a hospital.

When asked why the officer did not use a Taser, Woods said "when officers are faced with someone employing deadly force, deadly force can be the response officers give."

"It's a tragedy. There's no other way to say it. It was a 16-year-old girl. I'm a father, her family is grieving," Woods said.

"She could be my grandchild," Ned Pettus, director of the Columbus Department of Public Safety, said at a press conference Tuesday. "My heart breaks for the family tonight. No matter the circumstances, that family is in agony. ... They deserve answers, the city deserves answers. ... But fast answers cannot come at the expense of accurate answers."

Pettus said if the law was broken the police officer will be held accountable.

Police held a press conference late Tuesday where they showed a small portion of body camera footage of the incident. In the video, the officer is seen approaching a fight involving several teenage girls.

Police said, and the slow motion video appeared to show, that the officer shot the teen just as she was "attempting to stab the first female that lands on the ground and then the second female that is pushed onto the vehicle."

"She was a good kid. She was loving," Hazel Bryant, who said she was the victim's aunt, told Columbus ABC affiliate WSYX-TV near the scene of the shooting. "Yeah, she had issues, but that's OK. ... She didn't deserve to die like a dog on the street."

A review of the shooting will be conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther confirmed the news of the shooting on Twitter.

"This afternoon a young woman tragically lost her life," he wrote. "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 -- as they do with all CPD-involved shootings.

"We will share information that we can as soon as it becomes available," he continued. "I'm asking for residents to remain calm and allow BCI to gather the facts."

People gathered near the scene of the shooting as night fell and later marched through Columbus and outside the police department.

The shooting came about an hour before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

Police initially said Ma'Khia Bryant was 15 years old, but Franklin County Children Services later said she was 16.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 10:42PM by Mark Osborne and Marlene Lenthang, ABC News Permalink