A day after 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by a Columbus police officer, demonstrations spread throughout the city as protesters demanded police accountability.
During a vigil for Ma’Khia Wednesday night, local organizer Hana Abdur Rahim called for abolition of the police system.
“The system is not broken. There’s no cracks in the system. The system was designed for white supremacy,” Abdur Rahim said. “The system was designed perfectly. We need to design a new one.”
The teen was shot 20 minutes before a guilty verdict was announced against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, fueling renewed outrage over police-involved deaths.
Officials urged calm Wednesday as additional footage, which appears to show Ma’Khia holding a knife, and 911 calls were released. The officer who fired the shots that killed Ma’Khia, who is Black, was identified as Nicholas Reardon, who has been with the department since 2019. He was placed on leave.
The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting and will pass its findings in the case to a prosecutor – either the attorney general’s office or the Franklin County prosecutor – for consideration before a grand jury.
After vigil, protesters gather outside Columbus police headquarters
By Wednesday night, hundreds gathered at demonstrations spread throughout the city, some following a community vigil to remember Ma’Khia.
Two of Ma’Khia’s three best friends attended the vigil, where one of them, Aaliyaha Tucker, took the megaphone. Tucker said the girls, now 10th-graders, met in 9th grade and have been inseparable since. She said Ma’Khia taught the girls to be confident and love their bodies.
“Ma’Khia has been a best friend to us since last year,” Tucker told the crowd. “And those were the best years of our life.”
Following the vigil, over 150 protesters gathered outside the headquarters of the Columbus Division of Police for the second night in a row.
Fact check:Ma’Khia Bryant was holding a knife when shot by police
More than 500 Ohio State University students marched to the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday and called on university leaders to sever ties to the police division.
Activists gathered calling for abolition of the police and to reread a list of demands sent to the university by three Ohio State student governments in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
Students were also upset there had been no message sent from Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson or other university channels condemning Ma’Khia’s death Tuesday, calling the silence “unacceptable” and “shameful”.
Demonstrations first began shortly after the shooting Tuesday when about 50 protesters gathered behind crime scene tape about a half-block away from the shooting scene.
Gabrielle Union expresses outrage after Columbus police shooting:’We didn’t get justice’
911 calls, bodycam footage released
Less than six hours after the incident Tuesday afternoon, Columbus police released body camera footage, in which the teen appears to have a knife.
In one of two 911 calls played at a Wednesday news conference, screaming could be heard as a caller reported a girl trying to stab an individual, then the call disconnected.
A portion of the bodycam footage was shown to the media Tuesday night in an unusual decision by the city and police. Additional footage was played during Wednesday’s news conference.
The video shows Reardon approaching a group of people standing in a driveway. In the video, Ma’Khia pushes or swings at another person, who falls to the ground.
Ma’Khia appears to swing a knife at a girl on the hood of a car, and Reardon fires his weapon, striking Ma’Khia.
Interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Wood said 90 seconds after shots were fired, a medic was called. Ma’Khia was transported in critical condition to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m.
During the news conference Wednesday, Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus urged patience.
“I understand the outrage and emotion around this incident,” he said. “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 and 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.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Ma’Khia’s shooting “tragic.”
“She was a child,” Psaki said Wednesday. “We’re thinking of her friends and family in the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss. We know that police violence disproportionately impacts Black and Latino people in communities and that Black women and girls, like Black men and boys, experience higher rates of police violence. We also know that there are particular vulnerabilities that children in foster care, like Ma’Khia, face.”
LeBron James, other celebrities respond
Lebron James had tweeted “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY” with an hourglass emoji, accompanied by a photo of a police officer. The photo was of Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon, according to ESPN. The Los Angeles Lakers star later removed the original post involving the photo of Reardon.
“ANGER (doesn’t do) any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though!” James tweeted. “My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!
Singer-songwriter Kehlani, actress Gabrielle Union and actor George Takei were among other celebrities who also reacted to the shooting.