Columbus police shoot and kill a Black teenage girl

Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by an officer on the Southeast Side

The scene on Legion Lane following a fatal police shooting

Just minutes before a Minnesota jury delivered a guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd on Tuesday afternoon, Columbus police shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant while responding to a call on the Southeast Side. 

The victim's name has not been released by police, but Franklin County Children's Services confirmed that the girl killed was 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant and that she was in foster care and in the custody of Children's Services, the Dispatch reported.

According to the Dispatch, police received a 911 call at 4:35 p.m. reporting an attempted stabbing on the 3100 block of Legion Lane. The caller said that a female was trying to stab them, and then hung up the phone. Officers responded to the scene, and at 4:45 p.m. the police shooting was reported. Bryant was then transported to Mount Carmel East, where she was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m., according to NBC 4. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was on the scene Tuesday night to investigate the shooting.

“This afternoon a young woman tragically lost her life,” Mayor Andrew Ginther wrote on Twitter early Tuesday evening. “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.”

Columbus police released portions of the body camera footage from the shooting during a press conference late Tuesday night. During the press conference, Ginther said, “We know based on this footage the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community.” 

The mayor also said that more footage would be released in the days ahead, and that he hoped to provide transparency without compromising the coming investigation. “We think it’s critically important to share as much information as possible as quickly as possible,” he said.

Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus said that BCI would conduct a fully independent investigation, the results of which would then be made public, and that if the involved officer had violated either the law or department policy, they would be held accountable. “I want answers,” Pettus said. “But fast, quick answers cannot come at the cost of accurate answers.”

Following Bryant’s death, protesters took to the streets Downtown, marching and chanting, “Black lives matter” and “Black girls matter! Black women matter!

In the face of these protests, on Twitter the mayor urged residents to remain calm while authorities continued to gather the facts. 

These messages directing citizens to remain calm in the face of a departmental investigation have been a common refrain coming from the Mayor’s Office, heard in similar form following the recent police shooting deaths of Casey Goodson and Andre Hill. 

In this instance, the pleas landed less than two hours after Ginther hailed the Floyd verdict as “the best outcome following the tragic and unnecessary loss of life,” concluding with a message about the need to “strive for justice and accountability in our own community.”