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Protests Erupt After Columbus Cop Fatally Shoots Teen As She Tries To Stab Another Teen

Columbus, OH – Protesters are demanding “justice” for a 16-year-old girl who was fatally shot by police on Tuesday as she was swinging a knife at people, including a teen she had pinned against the hood of a car, bodycam footage showed.

“It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said during a press conference late Tuesday night. “It is a horrible, heartbreaking situation.”

“We know based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community,” Ginther noted. “But a family is grieving tonight.”

The incident began at approximately 4:32 p.m. on April 20, when the Columbus Police Department (CPD) received a report that “females” were at 3171 Legion Lane “trying to stab them and put their hands on them,” CPD Interim Chief Michael Woods said during the press conference.

The 911 dispatcher tried to gather information about any potential weapons that might have been involved, but was unable to get those answers amid the chaos in the background of the call, Chief Woods said.

Officers arrived at the scene at 4:44 p.m., just five minutes after they were dispatched.

Bodycam footage showed the officer approaching a group of people screaming at one another in the driveway of a residential area when a girl came running towards him.

The girl, who was being chased by another girl in a dark-colored shirt, tumbled to the ground at the officer’s feet after the person chasing her shoved or took a swing at her, the bodycam showed.

Chief Woods explained the attacker was trying to stab the girl who fell.

The girl in the dark t-shirt then pivoted and went after another girl who was dressed in a pink jumpsuit, the video showed.

“Hey! Get down! Get down!” the officer ordered to no avail, as a man appeared to kick the girl who had fallen onto the ground.

The teen in the dark shirt then swung a knife at the girl dressed in pink, who by that time was pinned against the hood of a car, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The officer discharged his weapon, hitting the girl wearing the dark-colored shirt.

A metallic sound could be heard as she fell to the ground and dropped an object onto the ground that appeared to be a knife, the video showed.

The chaotic scene amped up further after the shooting as additional officers rushed in and bystanders began screaming at them.

“She had a knife – she just ran at her,” the officer who fired his weapon told two of the witnesses, one of whom appeared to be the same man seen kicking the victim who had fallen to the ground right as the officer initially arrived.

“She’s a f—king kid, man!” the man screamed back at him.

The teen who had been shot had rolled onto her back by that time, and an officer could be seen moving a knife from beside her and down towards her feet as he tended to her wounds, bodycam footage showed.

She was rushed to Mount Carmel East hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m., The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Chief Woods said he does not know if the two girls who were attacked by the knife-wielding teen suffered any injuries.

“Normally we don’t provide information this soon, but we understand the public’s need, desire, and expectation to have transparency,” Chief Woods told reporters on Tuesday night. “This is a tragic incident for all involved, but especially for the family of the female.”

Police did not release the teen’s name on Tuesday night because next-of-kin were still being notified at the time, Chief Woods said.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is handling the ongoing criminal investigation into the officer-involved shooting, Chief Woods said.

The CPD will conduct an internal investigation into the all officers who were at the scene once the criminal investigation is completed, he said.

The officer who shot the teen has been placed on administrative leave, as per protocol.

His identity has not been released.

Ginther said the city believed it was “critical” that they share as much information about the incident as possible as quickly as possible.

The bodycam footage was released “to make sure we were sharing good, accurate information about what transpired today,” the mayor said.

“I ask for everyone to pray for peace,” Ginther added. “Tonight, we pray for this family, we pray for our city, and we pray for our neighbors throughout this community.”

The teen who died in the officer-involved shooting has since been identified by Franklin County Children’s Services (FCCS) as Ma’Khia Bryant, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Bryant was in foster care and was under the custody of FCCS when the shooting occurred.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the site of the incident and in the downtown area in the wake of the incident, which occurred just 20 minutes after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“We don’t get to celebrate nothing,” protester K.C. Taynor said through a megaphone at the gathering, referring to the Chauvin verdict. “In the end, you know what, you can’t be black.”

Another protester, 63-year-old Mike Fair, hauled an amplifier and microphone to the scene to demand “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“We are in a literal genocide. We are fighting for our lives,” Black Abolitionists Collective member Hana Abdur-Rahim declared.

“We’re not going to sit here and just sit around while you kill us, then go back in the suburbs,” another protester yelled, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin used the fatal officer-involved shooting as justification for the city’s up-and-coming police civilian review board.

“We don’t know very much as it stands, and as we watched the verdict from Minneapolis many talked about the sigh of relief — but there is a truth that for so many in our community there is no relief. This is not alright, it’s not OK, and it can’t continue on,” Hardin said on Tuesday evening, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

“The truth is that nothing that we will do will bring this young baby girl back. Nothing will stop the family from grieving,” she continued. “We need to fundamentally rethink safety in our city.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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