Columbus Police Release Body Camera Footage of Fatal Shooting of Black Teen

(Daily Beast) - A Columbus police officer shot and killed a Black teenage girl on Tuesday afternoon just as a guilty verdict was being handed down in the Derek Chauvin murder case.

Columbus Police Release Body Camera Footage of Fatal Shooting of Black Teen

Police said the shooting occurred after officers responded to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing. Body camera footage released by police late Tuesday showed officers pulling up to a chaotic scene where three girls appeared to be in the midst of a brawl. Within just a few seconds, as one of the girls involved in the fight can be seen wielding a knife as she lunges toward another girl, an officer yells, “Get down! Get down!” and then fires his weapon several times.

The girl, later identified by family as 15-year-old Makiyah Bryant, can be seen in the footage immediately collapsing as a man yells, “She’s just a fucking kid, man!”

The teen was transported to a nearby hospital, Mount Carmel East, but died of her injuries. The department has contacted the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to review the officer’s use of deadly force, and the officer will be “taken off the street,” interim police chief Michael Woods told reporters at a press conference.

“This is a tragic incident for all involved but especially for the family of the female,” Woods said. He said he could not answer a question about what efforts to de-escalate the situation were made apart from the officer firing his gun, saying he had not interviewed the officer involved.

While police said officers responded to the scene after a 911 caller “called in and indicated that someone was trying to stab them,” the family of Makiyah Bryant have offered a different version of events, saying the 15-year-old was trying to defend herself after being confronted by a group of women.

“She was a good kid. She was loving,” Hazel Bryant, who said the child was her niece, told reporters on the east side of Columbus. “She was 15 years old. She didn’t deserve to die like a dog in the street.”

Bryant said her niece had been living in a foster home on the east side of Columbus, where the fatal shooting took place. She said several adult women had come to the foster home and started an altercation with the teenager, who called police, and her biological father and grandmother for help. She grabbed a knife to defend herself, Bryant said.

According to Bryant, who said she had been told of the events by Makiyah’s grandmother and father, Makiyah was in front of the house fending off a physical assault when police arrived. Police shot her four times without any warning, she said.

“The police are going to lie. I’m so thankful that someone from the family was actually on the scene,” Bryant said before the release of the body-cam footage. “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.”

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bryant’s great-grandmother Ila compared Makiyah’s death to that of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed during a no-knock raid on her apartment in March 2020.

“It looks to me like that’s what the police wanted to do, to kill her. I’m just trying to figure out why,” Ila Bryant said. “We have to remember that we should love each other.”

Her mother, Paula Bryant, told 10 WBNS, “She was a very loving, peaceful little girl. She was an honor-roll student, and Makiyah had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace.”

A woman identified as Tay Jones wrote on Facebook that she had witnessed the shooting and posted video purportedly from the scene. She said the 15-year-old had a knife “because somebody tried to jump her.” The white police officer who shot her never told her to put down the knife, according to Jones.

About 100 people gathered in downtown Columbus late Tuesday to protest the shooting. They chanted, “Say her name! Makiyah Bryant!” and “Black Lives Matter!”

Hana Abbur-Rahim, the lead organizer of Black Abolitionist Collective Ohio, told The Daily Beast the shooting was proof of an alarming trend.

“It’s important to recognize that Black women are being killed by the police. Why can’t we be safe in our own homes?” she said.

Speaking at the Tuesday night press conference, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called the shooting a “heartbreaking situation.”

“The city of Columbus lost a 15-year-old girl. We know based on this footage the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community. But a family’s grieving tonight, and this young 15-year-old girl will never be coming home,” he told reporters.

The killing occurred just as the verdict was being announced in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed, 46-year-old Black man, in May 2020.

Local Columbus activist K.C. Taynor of Exodus Nation told The Daily Beast the latest police killing made it impossible to celebrate the Chauvin verdict.

“It’s another murder,” he said. “They’re animals. They treat us like animals.”