Editor’s note: The video this story links to is disturbing.
Columbus police released more bodycam video Wednesday of the fatal shooting of Black teen Ma’Khia Bryant the day before. Protesters took to the streets of the Ohio capital for the second straight day and night.
Demonstrators gathered in the afternoon and didn’t thin out until late Wednesday night, reports CBS Columbus affiliate WBNS-TV. Hundreds marched past or stopped at the Statehouse, the Ohio Supreme Court and police headquarters among other spots, the station said.
Bryant, 16, was shot by officer Nicholas Reardon, officials said Wednesday.
Police initially released some body camera footage of the shooting Tuesday night. They made the additional footage public along with two 911 calls in a press conference on Wednesday, citing “the public’s need, desire and expectation to have transparency.”
Interim police chief Michael Woods said Wednesday that dispatchers first received a call for help at 4:32 p.m. On the call, a woman told officers that people were trying to fight and stab her and others, according to an audio recording played during the press conference. A second 911 caller also asked police to respond to the scene, but the call ended quickly after the person realized police had just arrived.
Officers arrived on the scene at 4:44 p.m., Woods said. A slowed-down version of body camera footage appears to show Bryant attacking two other people, lunging at one with something in her hand, just after an officer arrived. The officer, identified by Woods as Nicholas Reardon, fired his weapon several times while Bryant and another girl were struggling against the side of a parked car. A knife could be seen next to Bryant’s body after the shooting.
It was unclear what led to the altercation, which was already in progress when the officers arrived.
Bryant’s family told WBNS-TV that Bryant was the one who called the police for help, saying people were fighting outside her house. Woods declined to comment on who called 911.
Woods said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting. When the agency has finished its investigation, “the divisional police will conduct an administrative review of the actions of this officer and all officers at the scene,” Woods said.
The officer who killed Bryant will be “taken off the street” while the shooting is investigated, Woods said. He also said a decision on whether the officer violated any policy will come after the criminal investigation is complete and sent to a grand jury.
“It’s a tragedy. There’s no other way to say it,” Woods said. “It’s a 16-year-old girl. I’m a father, her family is grieving. Regardless of the circumstances associated with this, a teenage girl lost her life yesterday.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called the shooting a “horrible, heartbreaking situation” and said, “We know from this footage that the officer took action to protect another young girl in the community.”
Woods said “deadly force can be used to protect yourself or (for) the protection of a third person. … Whether this complies with that will be part of that investigation.”
“We think it’s critically important to share as much information as possible, as quickly as possible,” Ginther said. “So, we’ll continue to share footage, other information in the hours and days ahead.”
The mayor also asked anybody with more information on what happened prior to the shooting “to share that information with the appropriate authorities.”
Bryant’s mother, Paula Bryant, told WBNS she’s “very upset. I’m hurt. I want answers.”
“My daughter dispatched Columbus police for protection, not to be a homicide today,” Paula said with tears in her eyes.
Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. said Wednesday that he understands the outrage Bryant’s family is feeling. “A teenage girl is dead and she is dead at the hands of a police officer,” Pettus said. “Under any circumstances, that is a horrendous tragedy.”
But Pettus cautioned that “the video shows that there is more to this. It requires us to pause, take a close look at the sequence of events.”
“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?” Pettus said. “And what would have happened if he had taken no action at all?”
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