Demonstrators are demanding justice for Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black 16-year-old who was fatally shot by Ohio police Tuesday afternoon.
According to the New York Times, the incident occurred in southeast Columbus at around 4:45 p.m. local time, just minutes before the Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd—a 46-year-old Black man whose death sparked one of the biggest protest movements in U.S. history.
Ben Crump, the attorney who represented Floyd’s family, responded to Ma’Khia Bryant’s death via Twitter on Tuesday night, reminding the world that the fight for racial justice is far from over.
Hazel Bryant, who identified herself as Ma’Khia’s aunt, told the Daily Beast that her niece—who was alternately identified in reports as being 15 and named Makiyah—was shot at a foster home where she had been living. Bryant claimed the incident began when several adult women went to the residence and started an altercation with Ma’Khia. The aunt said the teen had called police as well as some relatives for help, and then armed herself with a knife for protection.
Bryant told the outlet that Ma’Khia’s grandmother and father had filled her in on the events that took place prior to the shooting. The grandmother reportedly told Bryant that Ma’Khia was fending off an attack in the home’s front yard when officers arrived at the scene. Bryant claimed her niece had already dropped the knife at that point, but officers opened fire and ended up shooting Ma’Khia four times.
“The police are going to lie. I’m so thankful that someone from the family was actually on the scene,” Hazel Bryant said. “The police are going to lie. The police are going to cover up for themselves. They don’t care. At this point, I feel like they’re just out to kill Black people. They’re not here to protect and serve. That isn’t happening. That’s been over a long time ago. They’re not here to protect and serve. They’re here to kill Black folks.”
Ma’Khia Bryant was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition. She was pronounced dead shortly after.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther addressed the police shooting in a series of tweets Tuesday night, confirming the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting an independent investigation into the incident. He also called on the public to “remain calm” as the authorities gather all the facts.
In the hours since Ma’Khia’s death, protestors have taken to the streets to demand justice for the teen. Stay tuned as more information becomes available.
Body-camera footage was later released by authorities during a press conference on Tuesday night. A police spokesperson said during the conference that “normally” the department doesn’t provide information “this soon,” but added that—in this case—“we understand the public’s need, desire, and expectation” for transparency.
The footage, which is graphic, comes from the camera of the officer who ultimately shot Ma’Khia. On Wednesday, the officer was identified as Nicholas Reardon.