Around 30 minutes before a guilty verdict was delivered in the brutal killing of George Floyd in March 2020, a young Black woman was shot to death by an Ohio police officer. The entire nation is again calling for changes in its law enforcement.
A male 911 dispatcher received a frantic call from an unidentified female caller around 4:00 PM on April 20, 2021.
The caller told the dispatcher, “We got these grown girls over here trying to fight us. Trying to stab us. Trying to put their hands on our grandma… Get here now!”
Officer Nicholas Reardon was dispatched to the scene three minutes after the call. Two other officers, Eric Channel and Serge Akpalo, followed shortly after. When Reardon arrived at the Legion Lane home in Columbus, Ohio, he saw Bryant charging at Shai-Onta Lana Craig-Watkins with a kitchen knife in her hand. A few seconds later, she was coming at Tionna Bonner when Reardon yelled, “Get down!” Shots were then fired four consecutive times, hitting Bryant in the chest.
The officers who were dispatched to the scene took turns rendering CPR to Bryant but to no avail.
The street where Angela Moore, the woman who fostered Bryant and two other young women, lived was filled with neighbors who witnessed the shocking incident. Almost everyone who saw what happened filmed the incident. Everyone was all too familiar with the ending: another Black person killed by law enforcement.
One of the onlookers yelled, “You have no respect for life… No, actually, you have no respect for Black life.”
Reardon responds, “She had a knife. She went at her.”
Another bystander was heard on one of the police bodycam footage saying, “You ever heard of de-escalating? No, you guys just shoot.”
What the Columbus Police have to say
Interim police chief Michael Woods said in a report that they “will conduct an administrative review of the actions” of all the officers involved after the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has investigated the incident. He also added that Reardon, the officer who shot the 16-year-old victim will be “taken off the street” during the investigation. A decision on whether Reardon violated any police procedures will be made and sent to a grand jury, as well.
“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 associated with this, a teenage girl lost her life yesterday,” Woods said.
Ned Pettus Jr., Director of Public Safety, said that the Bryant family’s outrage is understandable. They lost a young family member at the hands of a police officer. He said, “She could be my grandchild… My heart breaks for the family tonight.”
“Under any circumstances, that is a horrendous tragedy,” Pettus said.
The Public Safety director adds, “We have to ask ourselves: What information did the officer have? What did he see? How much time did he have to assess the situation? And what would have happened if he had taken no action at all?”
The public’s reaction to the tragic event
The public uproar following the devastating death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant is expected, especially since this isn’t the first time a young Black life has been lost at the hands of police. In fact, 181 Black people have been reported to have been killed by the police in the US since the murder of George Floyd, according to Mapping Police Violence.
Last summer, George Floyd, a Black man who was suspected to have used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes, was brutally killed by a police officer. Even though that police officer was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, a lot of citizens are still calling on local governments to defund police departments. People are suggesting reinvesting in other community services to address police brutality on people of color.
It’s understandable for people to be enraged and frustrated with local authorities who continue to show no mercy in their treatment of people of color. However, there are proper venues for people to voice their opinions, fears, and frustrations. Everyone has the right to demand an end to police brutality, but taking it to the streets and destroying properties in an attempt to be heard is another story. We must all remember; the end doesn’t justify the means. Perpetrating racism and violence is wrong. But it’s also wrong to use violence to end it.
Take the good with the bad
Racial discrimination and violence have been happening in the US and other parts of the world since time immemorial. Thousands of lives have been lost because they were of a different race. They were people of color.
Despite all the challenges of racial discrimination, life must go on. One must always take the good with the bad. You need to fight back, but you must also accept both the negative and positive things in life. That is how you survive. Just like the inspiring and gripping memoir of Dr. Frank L. Douglas in this book, “Defining Moments of a Free Man from a Black Stream”.
The book tells the life story of the brilliant and promising scientist, Dr. Frank L. Douglas, and his humble beginnings, struggles, and everything in between. Check out this book today and be inspired to make a difference in this world.