Ma’Khia Bryant Was Shot and Killed by a Columbus Police Officer. Here's What We Know.

Bryant was just 16 years old.

Lady on street corner wearing face mask holding post of Ma'Khia Bryant
(Image credit: ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)

Trigger warning: Graphic description of shooting death. On April 20, about 30 minutes before a jury found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty for murdering George Floyd in May of 2020, Ma’Khia Bryant was fatally shot by police in Columbus, Ohio. She was only 16 years old.

This is what we know so far.

Someone called the police to request protection.

According to a press conference held by the Columbus Police Division on Tuesday night, at approximately 4:32 p.m., officers were dispatched in response to a 911 call on the 3100 block of Legion Lane on the city’s southeast side. A female caller had reported that other females were trying to "stab them." Officers were dispatched at 4:36 and arrived at 4:44.

Initial reports suggested that the call reportedly came from Bryant, according to her family. “My daughter dispatched Columbus police for protection, not to be a homicide today,” Paula Bryant, Ma’Khia’s mother, said tearfully in an interview with 10 WBNS at the time. Later reports suggested it was actually Bryant's sister who called 911. Police have not officially confirmed who called, and there are conflicting reports at this time.

There is video bodycam footage of the shooting.

During the news conference, interim police chief Michael Woods said the department would be releasing a portion of the bodycam footage earlier than usual due to the public's "need, desire, and expectation for transparency." The entire footage has yet to be released.

In the bodycam footage—taken from the perspective of the cop who shot and killed Bryant, who was the first cop to arrive on the scene—the officer approaches the base of what appears to be a residential driveway, where a group of people are gathered. There appears to be an altercation between some of the members of the group.

The officer asks “What’s going on?” It appears that after an altercation, a teenager in a black shirt, identified now as Bryant, lunged at another woman while holding what appeared to be a knife, as reported by the New York Times. The officer yells "get down" multiple times, before firing four shots at the teenager. She falls to the ground.

A person in the video can be heard yelling "She's just a kid.”

Bryant's aunt, Hazel Bryant, told the Columbus Dispatch that Bryant lived in a foster home on Legion Lane and got into an altercation with someone else at the home. Franklin County Children's Services confirm that Bryant was in foster care at the time, and in the custody of Children's Services. According to reporting by CNN, Angela Moore, who cared for Bryant in foster care, said the fight started over housekeeping issues.

Bryant says that her niece had a knife, but dropped it before she was shot.

There are new details as to what happened immediately after the shooting.

According to a press briefing on Wednesday, officers attempted CPR and 90 seconds after shots were fired, notified the fire department that they needed a medic on the scene. Six minutes after shots were fired, a medic arrived on the scene, who performed "life saving measures." Bryant was transported to Mount Carmel East hospital in critical condition, where she was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m.

The officer has been identified.

Initially, the officer had not been named. On Wednesday, The Columbus Division of Police identified him as Officer Nicholas Reardon. He was hired by the Columbus Division of Police in 2019.

According to Ned Pettus, Jr., the public safety director for the city of Columbus, there will be an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The officer will be taken off the streets while the BCI conducts an investigation.

Demonstrators are demanding justice.

By 8:30 p.m. the day of the shooting, around 50 people had gathered with megaphones, Black Lives Matter signs, and loudspeakers at the crime scene. Countless more marched the streets toward Columbus police headquarters, chanting "Say her name, Ma’Khia Bryant." Others are demonstrating across the nation.

Others have called for justice on social media.

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, called the fatal shooting "tragic." Thousands on Twitter have also shared their disgust and anger in the shooting, as well as condolences to Bryant's family and friends.

Bryant's TikTok hair tutorial has since gone viral.

A TikTok hair tutorial video posted by Bryant has been viewed more than a million times following her death. The video is set to "Just Another Interlude" by Bryson Tiller. It has also been shared on Twitter.

Ma'Khia deserved to grow old.

Bryant was just 16. She was an honor roll student. She loved posting hair tutorials to TikTok. According to her mother, she had “a motherly nature” and “always promoted peace.” Regardless of her impressive academic accolades and loving personality, put simply, Ma’Khia Bryant had a right to live her life. She had the right to grow old.

Don Bryant, a cousin of Ma’Khia’s mother, has served on the Mansfield, Ohio, city council. According to Don Bryant, as reported by The Washington Post: “There are other disengagement techniques that police could have used here. I’m a supporter of police, as former city councilor. I understood their moves, their tactics, what they do. I just don’t understand what happened here.”

Though the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin was a small glimmer of hope in the fight to end rampant police brutality, there is clearly so much more work left to be done.

This piece has been updated with new information. We will continue to update as we learn additional details.

Megan DiTrolio

Megan DiTrolio is the editor of features and special projects at Marie Claire, where she oversees all career coverage and writes and edits stories on women’s issues, politics, cultural trends, and more. In addition to editing feature stories, she programs Marie Claire’s annual Power Trip conference and Marie Claire’s Getting Down To Business Instagram Live franchise.