Questions Remain Over Ma'Khia Bryant Police Shooting After Body Camera Footage Is Released
Columbus city officials have released the police body camera footage and the 911 calls related to the police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant in a short timeframe. Even after the footage was released, many questions remain unanswered.
Bryant, 16, was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon by a Columbus Police officer. The incident happened shortly before Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict was announced, and it sparked protests in downtown Columbus up until early morning hours.
The officer who shot and killed Bryant is named Nicholas Reardon. He was hired onto the Columbus Division of Police less than two years ago, in December 2019. After Tuesday’s shooting, he is on administrative leave. He was working a one-officer car assignment in the southeast precinct of Columbus.
Columbus Police shared audio from two 911 calls related to Bryant, although they did not specify who made those calls.
“The address is 3171, we’ve got these grown girls over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us put their hands on us, come on get in there now!” a woman said on the phone.
“Did you see any weapons?” the dispatcher asked in return.
Bryant’s family said Ma’Khia made the phone call, but Columbus Police would neither confirm nor deny this claim, citing the ongoing investigation.
The other 911 call was brief.
“What’s the address of your emergency?” a dispatcher asked. “Um, it’s on Legion Lane,” the caller responds. “What’s your emergency?” the dispatcher asked. “Nevermind, the police already got here,” the caller says before hanging up.
Dispatch got the first call at 4:32 p.m., then sent a car to the scene three minutes later.
Body Cam Footage from Multiple Officers Reveal Pieces of the Altercation
Police also shared body camera video from three officers who were at the scene: Reardon, Serge Akpalo and Eric Channel.
Reardon’s footage shows Bryant lunging towards someone in a bright pink sweatsuit. Reardon yelled ‘Get down!’ several times before shooting.
“Hey, hey, hey!,” Reardon yelled amidst others screaming in the background. “Get down, get down, get down, get down!” he yells before shooting at Bryant four times.
In a different body cam video, Akpalo is chatting with the girl or woman in a bright pink sweatsuit before seating her in a police car.
“She came out here with a knife earlier?” Akpalo asked.
“No, she just, that’s why the police did it. Because she came after me,” the girl or woman said.
“With a knife?” Akpalo asked.
“Yeah, so he got her,” the girl or woman said.
City Officials Ask For Public To Await Investigation Results
City officials encouraged the public to be slow to react. Mayor Andrew Ginther said the community needs to examine why Ma’Khia Bryant was in this situation to begin with.
“The fact that we had a 16-year-old girl armed and involved with physical violence with other folks in that community, that’s something for us to look in the mirror and say, ‘What are we doing or not doing?’” Ginther says.
Whereas Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus said the public needs to ask itself the following questions.
“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 if he had taken no action at all?” Pettus asked.
Ginther and Pettus encouraged people to let the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to continue its work before drawing conclusions.
The investigation remains ongoing. Ginther said the Columbus Police would release cruiser dashboard footage of the incident by Thursday morning.