NEWS
21/04/2021 08:05 BST

Teen Girl Killed By Columbus Police On Afternoon Of Chauvin Verdicts

Graphic body-camera footage shows an officer firing at the teenager several times. An investigation into the shooting is underway, officials said.

A teenage girl was shot dead by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon, about the same time that a jury in Minneapolis was returning guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin, a former cop, in the killing last year of George Floyd.

Graphic body-camera footage of the incident, made public by police at a news conference Tuesday night, shows officers arriving at a southeast Columbus neighbourhood and finding a commotion in front of a house.

One officer ― who has not been identified ― fires several times at the Black teenager, who appeared to be grappling with another female. The teen collapses on the ground and, moments later, a witness can be heard shouting, “She’s a fucking kid, man!” A small knife can be seen next to the fallen teenager. 

Referring to the body-camera footage, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said it was “clear the officer took action to protect another young life.” 

“It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It’s a horrible, heartbreaking situation,” Ginther said during a news conference. “We felt transparency in sharing this footage, as incomplete as it is at this time.”

He added that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was conducting an independent review of the shooting. The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

Family members of the victim identified the girl as a “loving” and “sweet” teenager named Ma’Khia Bryant. 

It was Ma’Khia, they said, who had called 911 for help because there were girls fighting outside her home. 

Officials said police had been responding to a disturbance call when the shooting occurred. 

Reports have differed on Ma’Khia’s age. Officials and some of her family members have said she was 15. A woman who identified herself as the girl’s mother said the girl was 16.

“She was a good kid. She was loving,” a woman who identified herself as Ma’Khia’s aunt told reporters of the teen. “She was 15 years old. She didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street.”

The woman told The Columbus Dispatch Ma’Khia lived in a foster home and had gotten into an altercation with someone else who lived there.

According to WSYX-TV, Ma’Khia was taken to a hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead just before 5:30pm local time. 

At around the same time as Ma’Khia’s death on Tuesday, Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in a Minneapolis courtroom hundreds of miles away.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, a white officer, knelt on his neck for nearly 10 minutes in an arrest attempt. Among Floyd’s last words were “I can’t breathe.”

After word of the Columbus shooting spread, a crowd began to gather near the site of the incident, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Several protesters carried Black Lives Matter signs, and one man, K.C. Taynor, recalling earlier relief over the Chauvin verdicts, told the Dispatch: “We don’t get to celebrate nothing. ... In the end, you know what, you can’t be Black.”

As night fell, dozens of protesters also gathered outside Columbus police headquarters, demanding justice for Ma’Khia.

“Say her name, Ma’Khia Bryant,” they chanted.

Columbus police said they would release more body-camera footage and further information about the shooting on Wednesday.

This story has been updated throughout with more information about the shooting.