Family of Ta'Kiya Young demands answers, body cam footage as police plan Friday release
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The family of Ta'Kiya Young is demanding Blendon Township Police immediately release body cam footage and the name of the officer who shot and killed the 21-year-old pregnant woman after she allegedly shoplifted alcohol from a Westerville Kroger store.
Her grandmother, Nadine Young, and more than a dozen others attended a press conference Wednesday with civil rights attorney Sean Walton. Young and Walton were joined by Tamala Payne, the mother of Casey Goodson Jr., and each demanded accountability for the officer's actions and questioned whether Young had even committed a crime to warrant officers trying to arrest her in the first place.
Nadine Young described her granddaughter as family-oriented, a fireball and a big prankster. She laments how her granddaughter won't get to see her two living children or her unborn child grow up because police killed her. She said her granddaughter was due to give birth in November to a baby girl.
"It is unthinkable the way it happened. You sit in the car and you be killed. Pregnant. It's sad. It's real sad. So Blendon Township got to 'fess up to what's going on. It was just wrong," Nadine said.
Blendon Township Police Chief John Belford released a statement Wednesday and said the footage would be available on Friday. He said in a video statement the day after the shooting that the footage would be released once legal redactions are made and after the family is able to view it first.
"We spoke to the family’s attorney on Wednesday, and I am appreciative of his help coordinating with the family during this difficult time," Belford said.
When asked by a WOSU reporter, Walton and much of crowd present said they believe police are intentionally planning to release it Friday, before Labor Day weekend, to lessen its impact once the public views it.
"All indications are that this footage is bad and that they're trying to time the release in a way that minimizes media coverage, that minimizes outrage from the community," Walton said.
Belford said in his video statement that officers were in the parking lot helping someone locked out of their car. That’s when a Kroger employee pointed out a person they said had been involved in stealing bottles of alcohol from the store.
Belford said officers approached the Lexus sedan where Ta'Kiya was seated. He said Ta'Kiya then started the vehicle and after two officers ordered her to get out of the car, she allegedly began moving it forward.
Belford said an officer in the direct path of the car fired one shot through the windshield hitting the young woman.
He said officers broke the window to the car and began performing medical care. Ta'Kiya later died after being taken to St. Ann’s Hospital.
The chief says both officers involved are on administrative leave as the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation examines the case.
Walton called into question this narrative and also criticized police for not releasing the name of the officer. He suggested Marsy's Law, which is being used by other police departments to shield the identities of officers they consider victims of crimes, may be used as justification not to identify this officer.
"There are 15 officers currently on the roster for Blendon Township. I encourage Blendon Township to allow us to know the officers involved in this shooting. Otherwise, we have to assume that all 15 of those officers may potentially be a murderer," Walton said.
Nadine Young said her granddaughter was fired up to have a daughter because she already had two sons. She said she and her granddaughter butted heads sometimes "because we both Leos," but she misses her a lot and people in the community will also miss her.
"Everybody knew (Ta'Kiya). She was like the neighborhood party girl. Everybody loved her. Everybody liked her," Nadine Young said.
Walton demanded accountability and said the family is suffering, because police have not released this information.
"Whatever Ta'Kiya did that day, and again, we don't even believe that an actual crime took place. But whatever she did that day, it did not deserve the punishment of death," Walton said.
WOSU has requested any incident reports or summaries of the shooting from Blendon Township Police, in addition to body camera footage and any internal communications about the incident in the hours following the shooting.
None of these requests have been fulfilled by the agency as of Wednesday afternoon.