White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday deemed the fatal police shooting of a teenage girl allegedly wielding a knife in Columbus, Ohio, “tragic,” saying “she was just a child.”
Police in Columbus fatally shot the girl, 16, shortly before a jury in Minneapolis on Tuesday convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd. Body camera footage of the Ohio shooting, released by police, shows an officer shooting the girl four times after she apparently lunged at two people while holding a knife.
“The killing of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant by Columbus police is tragic. She was a child. We are thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are grieving her loss,” Psaki said at a White House briefing, adding that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the shooting.
“We know that police violence disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities and that Black women and girls, like Black men and boys, experience higher rates of police violence. We also know that there are particular vulnerabilities that children in foster care like Ma’Khia face,” Psaki said Wednesday. “Our focus is on working to address systemic racism and implicit bias head-on and of course to passing laws and legislation that will put much-needed reforms into place at police departments around the country.”
Video of the Ohio incident shows an officer with the Columbus Police Department (CPD) as he approaches a driveway where a group of young people is gathered after the CPD received a 911 call at 4:35 p.m. about an attempted stabbing. Among the group was Bryant, who “pushes or swings at a person, who falls to the ground, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
“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,” the paper wrote.
“It’s a tragic day in the city of Columbus. It’s a horrible, heartbreaking situation,” Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “We felt transparency in sharing this footage, as incomplete as it is at this time” was critical.
“Hazel Bryant told The Dispatch that she is the aunt of Ma’Khia Bryant,” wrote the paper. “The girl lived in a foster home there on Legion Lane and got into an altercation with someone else at the home, she said. Bryant said her niece had a knife but maintained that the girl dropped the knife before she was shot multiple times by a police officer.”
The Ohio shooting follows another in Chicago in which a police officer fatally shot a 13-year-old boy. In that case, “Authorities released body-worn camera footage that shows an officer making a split-second decision to fire a single shot that killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo after the boy is seen holding a handgun at the end of a foot chase, according to police,” CNN reported.
“Police say what was in Toledo’s hand is a gun that was later recovered from behind the fence where the chase ended.”