Ohio police kill black teenage girl who appeared in video to brandish knife

WARNING: Graphic body camera video is shown. Viewer discretion is advised

Investigators work at the scene where a fatal shooting by a police officer occurred in Columbus, Ohio, US, on April 20 2021.
Investigators work at the scene where a fatal shooting by a police officer occurred in Columbus, Ohio, US, on April 20 2021.
Image: REUTERS/ GAELEN MORSE

Police in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed a black teenage girl on Tuesday after confronting her while responding to a report of an attempted stabbing, according to authorities and the youngster's family.

The shooting in a neighbourhood on the city's southeast side happened to coincide with announcement of the guilty verdict by a Minneapolis jury against a former police officer charged with murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck during an arrest last year.

Releasing police body-camera video of Tuesday's shooting in Ohio's capital hours later, the interim Columbus police chief, Michael Woods, said officers involved there were answering an emergency-911 call from someone who reported an attempted stabbing.

Police arriving at the home encountered a chaotic scene of several people on the front lawn of a dwelling where the female youth, seen brandishing what appeared to be knife, was charging towards another female who fell backwards, the video showed.

A police officer then opened fire on the youth as she collapsed against a car parked in the driveway. The video then shows what appears to be a kitchen knife lying on pavement near the teenager.

Authorities described the youth who was fatally shot as a 15-year-old girl. But family members have identified her as Makiyah Bryant, aged 16.

The officer who opened fire was not identified. The chief said he “would be taken off the street” pending an investigation.

Around the time the video was made public, live television news coverage showed a growing crowd of protesters on city streets after dark, confronting a small line of police officers on bicycles.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that demonstrators had gathered near the scene of the shooting earlier in the day.

Woods said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) had opened an inquiry into the case. He and the city's public safety director, Ned Pettus, junior, appealed for calm while the investigation proceeds and facts are uncovered in what he called “a devastating” loss of life.

“Fast, quick answers cannot come at the cost of accurate answers,” Pettus told a late news conference with the police chief and mayor. “BCI will conduct a fully independent investigation, which will be made public. If an officer has violated policy or the law, if they have, they will be held accountable.”

Mayor Andrew Ginther said it appeared from an initial review of the footage that the officer who opened fire “took action to protect another young girl in our community”.

“But another young girl will still not be coming home tonight, he said, adding, “I ask everyone to pray for peace. Tonight we pray for this family, we pray for this city, and we pray for our neighbours,” Ginther said.

A woman identified in the Columbia Dispatch account as the slain girl's aunt, Hazel Bryant, told the newspaper the teenager lived in a foster home and became involved in an altercation with someone at the residence.


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