The Slatest

A Black Teenage Girl Is Shot and Killed by Columbus Police

Blurry frame of people fighting in a driveway next to two parked cars.
A still image from police bodycam video of the scene when officers arrived. Screenshot/YouTube

As the search for justice in one police killing was resolving itself in Minneapolis Tuesday, just minutes before the verdict was announced in the death of George Floyd, another police killing took place in Columbus, Ohio, where an officer shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant outside what appears to be her home.* Many of the details of the incident remain sketchy, even after the local police department quickly released an edited officer cam video of the chaotic incident in the driveway of a suburban street. As the officer gets out of his car and approaches the group, asking “What’s going on?” a fight flares.

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“The video shows an officer approaching a driveway with a group of young people standing there,” the Columbus Dispatch reports. “In the video, it appears that the 16-year-old, identified now as Ma’Khia Bryant, who was moments later shot by police, pushes or swings at a person, who falls to the ground. Bryant then appears to swing a knife at a girl who is on the hood of a car, and the officer fires his weapon what sounds like four times, striking Bryant, who died a short time later.”

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After the officer fired, a knife can be seen on the ground next to Bryant. In the background, bystanders can be heard shouting, “She’s just a kid!” “She had a knife. She just ran at her,” an officer can be heard saying on the footage. A video taken by someone at the scene shows officers then kneeling over Bryant, administering CPR. Police officials said Tuesday evening that officers had responded to a 911 call around 4:30 p.m. from a female caller about a group of girls that were trying “stab them and put their hands on them,” police said. It’s still not totally clear who made the call, but Bryant’s aunt, Hazel Bryant, told a local reporter that it was Ma’Khia who had called the police after a group of “older kids” threatened her.

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Bryant was in foster care at the time of the shooting, the county children’s services confirmed, and appears to have been outside her foster home. Hazel Bryant told the Dispatch that Ma’Khia had gotten into an altercation with someone else at the home. It’s unclear what led up to the moment officers arrived on the scene. It is also unclear whose knife it was that can be seen in the footage or who brought it to the scene. When slowed down, the video does appear to show Bryant holding the knife shortly before being shot. Hazel Bryant said Ma’Khia had dropped the knife, however, before she was shot.

Correction, April 21, 2021: This post originally misstated how police killed George Floyd. It was not a shooting.

In my six years at Slate, I’ve written about multiple national elections, social movements, and major cultural phenomena. With support from Slate Plus members, I’ve also gotten to dive deep into stories and angles no other outlets were covering, and that Slate wouldn’t have otherwise had the time or resources to tackle. —Christina Cauterucci, senior writer

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