According to footage released by the Columbus Police Department of the high-profile police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, the teen’s supposed would-be victim told police that Bryant “came after” her with a knife.
The footage was released Wednesday, as reported by WJW-TV, along with the 911 call that initially brought officers to the scene Tuesday where Bryant was ultimately shot and killed.
According to the body camera footage first released of her death, Bryant appeared to have been in an altercation when the officer ran up. After seeming to engage with one other young woman, Bryant turned on a second with what looked like a knife, waving at her as the officer shouted at her to get down.
The officer fired on Bryant, who dropped to the ground. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later passed away.
In one of the videos released Wednesday, the girl dressed in pink in the now-viral footage of the incident was shown being led to a police cruiser just after the incident by an officer who was questioning her.
“She came at you with a knife earlier?” he asked her, as yelling and shouting at the scene of the shooting could be heard in the background.
“She just did — that’s why the police did it,” the clearly shaken young woman replied. “She came after me.”
When the officer confirmed “With a knife?” the girl replied, “Yeah, so he got her.”
In the video of the shooting, the girl in pink can be seen fleeing in fear after the officer discharged his weapon, having been in Bryant’s grasp a second prior as Bryant swung the weapon at her, it appeared.
Bryant’s death has sparked national outrage as it would have even if it hadn’t happened the very week progressive America was basically threatening a jury with mass riots if they didn’t convict Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with the death of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis.
Not only was Bryant a woman of color, but she was also a teenager and foster child, and of course, it would be no compassionate nation that didn’t react with horror at such a heartbreaking incident.
“It’s a tragedy. There’s no other way to say it. It’s a 16-year-old girl. I’m a father. Her family is grieving. Regardless of the circumstances, a 16-year-old girl is dead. I sure as hell wish it hadn’t happened,” interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods said during a press conference when he released the footage, according to WJW.
He’s not wrong, and neither is anyone who says that Bryant’s life was intrinsically valuable, or that her death ought to be mourned.
However, no conversation about the value of Ma’Khia Bryant’s life can be had without also acknowledging the value of the life of the young woman she seemingly attempted to assault, with a knife, right in front of an officer of the peace, in broad daylight, outside her foster home.
What’s more, it would not be an honest discussion without also acknowledging there is a very big difference between simply recklessly and murderously swinging a weapon at another human being and shooting someone who is recklessly and murderously swinging a weapon at another human being.
Police officers often have to make difficult decisions on how to respond to situations in which basic natural rights, such as the right to life, are being threatened. It is tragic that Bryant lost her life, as it also would have been tragic if she took the life of the other young woman.
And it should bother us that it’s actually necessary to explain this.
Whatever may have led to this point in her life, Bryant was in a position in which she was threatening the life of another human being and it is a police officer’s duty to prevent criminal loss of life.
We can’t possibly expect officers to look at adult-sized humans swinging potentially deadly weapons at other human beings and hope they’ll stop and consider the age and life story of the individual before deciding if the individual’s potential victim is worth saving.
That would be a truly unjust society, and certainly not one where we could ever reasonably expect to achieve anything even closely resembling justice or equality in the eyes of the law.