On Tuesday, just minutes before Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, police in Columbus, Ohio, released bodycam footage of an officer shooting and killing 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. In response to the police killing of yet another young Black person, in this case a child, protesters marched through Columbus on Tuesday night carrying Black Lives Matter flags.
Officers were dispatched to the Walnut Heights area of Columbus on Tuesday afternoon at 4.36pm when they received a call that several girls were fighting, interim police chief Michael Woods told reporters. They arrived minutes later, and bodycam footage shows six to eight people outside the house. The graphic video (which Refinery29 will not directly link to), was shown at a press conference Tuesday night. In it, Ma'Khia appears to push another girl to the ground and run past an officer holding what police described as a knife.
Within the first 15 seconds of the video, the same officer fires four shots at Ma'Khia and she falls to the ground. People can be heard yelling, “She’s just a kid!” and “Are you stupid?”
Ma'Khia was almost immediately declared dead. In response, Woods said that protocol allows police officers to use deadly force as protection. The officer who killed her, unidentified, has been placed on administrative leave.
Shortly after the news of Ma'Khia's shooting broke, additional footage taken by a bystander circulated showing an officer yelling "blue lives matter." The video was allegedly taken after the 16-year-old was shot and killed. The Washington Post also reported on Tuesday that another officer at the scene was wearing a "blue lives matter" face mask.
Family members and the Franklin County Children's Services agency, which reported that Ma'Khia was a foster child, were the ones to identify the 16-year-old as the victim. Soon after, the community began mourning yet another police killing of a Black teen.
“Ma’Khia was named after a male prophet in the Bible,” Ma'Khia’s mother Paula Bryant told a reporter at Columbus’ 10TV. "She was a very loving, peaceful little girl. She was 16 years old, she was a honour roll student. Ma'Khia has a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace. And that's something that I want to always be remembered."
Ma'Khia’s aunt Hazel Bryant told The Columbus Dispatch that Ma'Khia lived at the foster home where the shooting took place and got into a conflict with somebody at the home. "She was loving," Hazel Bryant said. "Yeah, she had issues. But that's okay. All of us go through shit. ... She didn't deserve to die like a dog on the street."
This shooting comes on the heels of the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb, just miles from where Chauvin killed George Floyd, and the fatal shooting of Adam Toledo, 13, in Chicago, continuing a horrific pattern of police violence against young Black and brown people in America — including children.
"It's a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It's a horrible, heartbreaking situation," Mayor Andrew Ginther said at the press conference. "We felt transparency in sharing this footage, as incomplete as it is at this time." He said there will be an independent investigation into the shooting.
Refinery29 reached out to police for comment. We will update this story as we know more.