Updated Apr 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Columbus police identify officer who fatally shot Black teenage girl

Students and demonstrators march on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio on April 21, 2021 to protest the killing of MaKhia Bryant, 16, by the Columbus Police Department.

Students and protesters march on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Photo: Jeff Dean / AFP

Columbus police on Wednesday identified the officer who fatally shot Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl, saying officer Nicholas Reardon fired his weapon after Bryant threatened two other girls with a knife.

The big picture: The new details came as members of the community "challenged official accounts of [Tuesday's] incident and demanded to know why the officer used lethal force against a young girl," the Washington Post noted.

Details: Law enforcement responded to reports of a disturbance about 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, police said.

  • The Columbus Division of Police released bodycam footage at a Tuesday night news briefing they said indicated Bryant was trying to stab two people with a knife before she was shot. She was transported to a local hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
  • "We know based on this footage the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community," Mayor Andrew Ginther said at a briefing.
  • In new footage shared by police on Wednesday, "Reardon can be seen emerging from his vehicle as Bryant appears to chase someone," per the Post.
    • "The teen then turns toward someone else wearing a pink sweatsuit and takes a swing at her head, a blade briefly visible in her hand. The officer fires four shots at the girl," the Post added.
  • Reardon had been with the force since December 2019. The department has taken him off street duty, pending an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, according to the police chief.

Worth noting: "The new details shed little additional light on the circumstances that led to the shooting and are unlikely to quell concerns among local residents and activists, who have questioned whether the officer could have defused the situation without opening fire," the Post noted.

For the record: Hazel Bryant, who identified herself to media as the teenager's aunt, said Tuesday her "niece had a knife, but maintained that the girl dropped" it before she was shot "multiple times" by the officer, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

  • Franklin County Children's Services told the New York Times the teenager "had been in foster care" when the shooting happened.

What they're saying: Ginther on Wednesday called Bryant’s death "tragic" on Wednesday, adding that it was the result of a "failure on the part of the community."

  • "Bottom line: Did Ma’Khia Bryant need to die yesterday? How did we get here? This is a failure on the part of our community." Ginther said. "Some are guilty but all of us are responsible."
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that President Biden had been briefed on the “tragic” shooting.
  • “She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss,” Psaki said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details from a police briefing on Wednesday.

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