Minutes before the jury handed down Derek Chauvin’s verdict, Ma’Khia Bryant was shot dead by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. The details surrounding the shooting are still unclear, but reports concur that police responded to an altercation between Bryant and two women. Per Interim police chief Michael Woods, a woman called dispatchers claiming that people were trying to fight and stab her.
Officers arrived at the scene to find Bryant attacking two people with something in her hand. In response, officer Nicholas Reardon feared his weapon several times at Bryant, killing her. The object in Bryant’s hand was later identified to be a knife.
Ma’Khia lived in a foster home, but was due to return to her biological mother soon
The Franklin County Children Services confirmed that Ma’Khia was in the foster care system. The family didn’t reveal why or for how long Bryant was in foster care, but Don Bryant, a cousin of Ma’Khia’s mother Paula, said that Paula was ‘working very hard to get everything together.’ “They loved each other, and Paula was working very hard to get her daughter back,” Don told NBC.
Ma’Khia was also doing her part to facilitate a return home. Her business education teacher, Austin Owens, told NBC that Ma’Khia had big dreams. “She was going to run the world,” Owens said. “The language she used in her five-year plan was somebody who desperately wanted better for her life. And she wanted to make her parents proud.”
Paula Bryant told NY Daily News that she last saw her daughter alive on 15th April 2021. It was a happy meeting as Ma’Khia revealed that she had made the school’s honor roll and looked forward to returning home. She said that Ma’Khia enjoyed cooking, music, and seeing others laugh. Paula added:
“She was a very loving, peaceful little girl. Ma’Khia had a motherly nature about her, she promoted peace and that’s something that I want to always be remembered.”
Paula stated that Ma’Khia called the police for protection, not for homicide. The online community continues to question why Ma’Khia was placed in foster care. The overarching question is whether things have turned out differently if Ma’Khia lived in a loving family home.
A long-time member of the community, Don Brinson, told The Columbus Dispatch that he didn’t know Ma’Khia, but he knows her foster mom and that she’s a good mother who has always raised the kids under her care well. Brinson revealed that over the years, he saw foster kids smoking outside and engaging with neighborhood boys, but he never experienced or worried about violence.
Following a visit from Dispatch, Ma’Khia’s foster mom stated that she was at work when the shooting happened and that she didn’t want to talk more.
Ma’Khia’s family called for justice as they feel that the shooting was unnecessary
On 22nd April 2021, Bryant’s family released a statement stating that they were ‘saddened by the tragic and unnecessary death of Ma’Khia.’ The statement further read:
“Ma’Khia was a good student, a good person, and did not deserve what happened to her. We want to remind everyone Ma’Khia was only a 16-year-old teenage girl. We are deeply disturbed by the disproportionate and unjustified use of force in this situation.”
The family appreciated the public support and the prayers shared with the family before requesting justice for Ma’Khia Bryant.
Don Bryant, a cousin of Ma’Khia’s mother, questioned why police didn’t try to de-escalate the situation before using deadly force. He called himself a supporter of police by asked: “What’s going on that we have to be so trigger-happy these days?” Per NBC, he added:
“And here’s what I don’t want is this whole Blue Lives versus Black Lives matter issue. Listen here, there’s been a loss of life, bottom line, and you have a grieving mother who is just heartbroken.”
President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Keith Ferrell, called for patience and stated that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation will handle the case. “There will be an independent investigation done that will get those answers,” Ferrell said, per CNN. “But we can speak on what we know has been released by the City of Columbus. We can certainly see that lives were at stake.”