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Columbus police release more video, details in shooting death of 16-year-old girl

The fatal encounter in Columbus, Ohio, happened within an hour of Derek Chauvin's conviction in Minneapolis.
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Police in Columbus, Ohio, released more body-camera video Wednesday showing an officer's point of view as he pulled his weapon, opened fire and killed a 16-year-old girl while responding to a 911 call.

The body-worn camera of police Officer Nick Reardon recorded how he arrived at a reported disturbance late Tuesday afternoon.

Reardon drew his weapon as the altercation unfolded, the video showed. Police have said the video shows someone trying to stab a person on the ground, as well as a second person.

A person wearing a black T-shirt is seen with an object in her right hand that she raises toward a second person before Reardon fires.

The girl whom police shot and killed was identified as Ma'Khia Bryant, 16.

Police picked up what appeared to be a knife near the girl's body, and an officer could be heard on camera saying: "She had a knife. She just went at her."

A representative for the union representing Columbus police could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Bryant was in the foster care system, Franklin County Children Services confirmed Tuesday night.

Interim Police Chief Michael Woods told reporters Wednesday: "It's a tragedy. There's no other way to say it. It's a 16-year-old girl."

The case is being handled by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Columbus authorities said they will be limited in their comments. But Woods said department policy allows officers to shoot if it is believed that someone's life is in danger.

"I cannot respond specifically to this specific incident," Woods said. "But what I can say is that when officers are faced with someone employing deadly force, deadly force can be the response the officer gives."

The Bryant family released a statement Thursday saying they were "saddened by the tragic and unnecessary death of Ma’Khia."

"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 statement read. "And while we remain encouraged by public support and all of the prayers shared with us; at the end of the day, we know nothing will bring back our beloved Ma’Khia. We respectfully request justice for Ma’Khia Bryant."

Don Bryant, a cousin of Bryant's mother, said police had other options.

"I know there are de-escalation tactics that could have been used. You killed a teenage girl. That could have been avoided," he said.

"I'm seriously asking the Columbus Police Department: What's going on? I'm a supporter of our police, but what's going on here? What's going on that we have to be so trigger-happy these days? And here's what I don't want ... is this whole Blue Lives versus Black Lives Matter issue. Listen here, there's been a loss of life, bottom line, and you have a grieving mother who is just heartbroken."

Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. said at a news conference Wednesday that video of the encounter raises questions.

"The video shows that there is more to this. It requires us to pause, to 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," Pettus said.

"We have to ask ourselves: What information did the officer have? What did he see? How much time did he have to assess the situation? And what would have happened had he taken no action at all?" he said.

It was not clear whether the officer gave any warning or instructions before Bryant was shot. Woods said the officer would not have been required to give a warning.

"We try, but it is not a policy requirement that you yell your intent to fire your weapon," Woods said. "If there is time and opportunity, yes, we try and include that. But it is not a requirement if that time and opportunity is not there."

Police also released two 911 calls about the disturbance. It was not clear who made the calls or whether Bryant was a caller.

Image: The scene of a police shooting in Columbus
Hazel Bryant reacts after her niece, 15-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant, was fatally shot by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, on April 20, 2021.Gaelen Morse / Reuters

Hazel Bryant, the girl's aunt, said Bryant was acting in self-defense.

"My niece was defending herself," she said. "Those were grown, adult women. It looked like that was a child. That was not no child. Those were women attacking my niece, and she was defending herself. I'm angry right now."

The first 911 call was made at 4:32 p.m., and officers were not dispatched until 4:35. Woods said he did not know why it took three minutes to send police or whether that might have been a reasonable delay.

"So what cars are available? They rate those in priority," Woods said. " Once a car is available, they get dispatched."

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pleaded for the public's patience.

"We all want things instantly. I certainly do," he said. "Let an impartial body look at that. I have every confidence that that will be done in this case, and that's what we all should wait for."