Who Is Ma'Khia Bryant? 16-Year-Old Black Girl Shot Dead by Columbus Police

Ma'Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl, was fatally shot by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon.

The shooting, which led to protests in Ohio's capital, took place shortly before the announcement that jurors had found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd.

At a news conference hours later, a brief clip from the body camera of the officer who shot the teenager was played.

Michael Woods, the interim chief of the Columbus Division of Police, said it was unprecedented for bodycam footage to be released so soon after a police shooting in the city.

Columbus protest for Ma'Khia Bryant
Nygeria Rahmon, 21, of Columbus, Ohio holds her one year old child at a protest outside of the Ohio Statehouse in reaction to the shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant on April 20, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. Stephen Zenner/Getty Images

"We understand the public's need, desire and expectation to have transparency upon what happened," he said.

Woods said the footage showed the girl lunging at a female with a knife seconds after police arrived on the scene in the southeast of the city at around 4.45 p.m.

A spokesperson for Franklin County Children's Services identified the girl as Ma'Khia Bryant and said she had been in foster care, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The agency has been contacted for further comment.

Hazel Bryant, who identified herself as the girl's aunt, told the newspaper her niece lived in a foster home and had got involved in an altercation with someone there. She said her niece had had a knife, but had dropped it before she was shot by the officer.

The teenager's mother, Paula Bryant, told a 10TV reporter that she had been a honor roll student and a "sweet child."

"She was a very loving, peaceful little girl," she said. "Ma'Khia had a motherly nature about her, she promoted peace and that's something that I want to always to be remembered."

Paula Bryant tells me her 16 year-old daughter Ma’Khia Bryant was an honor roll student and a sweet child. Ma’Khia was shot and killed by a @ColumbusPolice on Legion Lane at 4:30p today. pic.twitter.com/0FfbQVEgSD

— Lacey Crisp (@LaceyCrisp) April 21, 2021

Paula Bryant said her daughter had called the police for help because girls were fighting outside the house.

At the conference, Woods said officers had been dispatched to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing in the 3100 block of Legion Lane. The caller had said "someone was trying to stab them and put their hands on them," but Woods did not identify the caller.

The body camera clip played at the news conference shows an officer approaching the driveway of a residence, where a group of girls were fighting.

"Get down!" the officer is heard yelling several times, before firing four shots.

Bryant is seen collapsing on the ground, next to a car parked in the driveway and the footage captured what appeared to be a knife on the ground.

Woods said an officer at the scene assessed her for injuries and CPR was started. She was pronounced dead in hospital.

Woods said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was leading the inquiry into the shooting. After that had been completed, Columbus Police would conduct an administrative review into the officer's actions, he added.

He said the officer, who was not named, had been "taken off the street."

Ned Pettus Jr., the public safety director for Columbus, called the girl's death "devastating."

"She could be my grandchild," Pettus said. "My heart breaks for the family tonight.

"No matter what the circumstances, that family is in agony and they are in my prayers. They deserve answers. Our city deserves answers. I want answers, but fast, quick answers cannot come at the cost of accurate answers."

— as they do with all CPD-involved shootings. We will share information that we can as soon as it becomes available. I’m asking for residents to remain calm and allow BCI to gather the facts.

— Mayor Andrew Ginther (@MayorGinther) April 20, 2021

He urged the public to be patient as the investigation continues, saying officers would be held accountable if they had violated departmental policy or the law.

"But in any way that you look at this, this has been a tragedy," he added.

At the news conference, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the footage showed the officer "took action to protect another young girl in our community."

On Twitter, he said: "It's a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It's a horrible, heartbreaking situation. Sharing the body-worn camera footage—while incomplete—was critical. We will share more footage as it becomes available."

Earlier in the day, Ginther had called for calm.

"This afternoon a young woman tragically lost her life," he said. "We do not know all of the details. There is body-worn camera footage of the incident. We are working to review it as soon as possible."

He added: "We will share information that we can as soon as it becomes available. I'm asking for residents to remain calm and allow BCI to gather the facts."

As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as @ColumbusPolice killed an unarmed 15yo Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. Another child lost! Another hashtag. ✊🏾🙏🏾#JusticeForMakiyahBryant https://t.co/9ssR5gfqm5

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 21, 2021

Bryant's death sparked outrage on a day many saw as a turning point towards greater police accountability.

Ben Crump, an attorney representing the Floyd family, tweeted: "As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting.

"Another child lost! Another hashtag."