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Ohio is investigating police shots at a black teenage girl caught on camera

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© Reuters. The scene of a police shot in Columbus

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By Gaelen Morse and Gabriella Borter

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) – State investigators in Columbus, Ohio on Wednesday investigated the fatal shots of a black teenager by police in a confrontation captured on body camera video in which she held a knife and two People attacked.

The girl, identified by police as 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, was shot dead Tuesday around the same time a Minneapolis jury convicted a white ex-cop for the murder of George Floyd last year by standing on his Neck kneeling.

Their shots sparked immediate protests in Columbus, Ohio’s largest city and capital, as the announcement of the guilty verdict in the Floyd case brought relief and cheer to the city of Minnesota.

Interim Police Chief Michael Woods identified the officer who shot Bryant as Nicholas Reardon, who was hired in December 2019. The video shows that he is white and fired four shots at Bryant. Woods said Reardon will be “taken off the street” pending an investigation.

A spokeswoman for Franklin County Children Services said Bryant was a foster child in the agency’s care.

Bryant’s aunt Hazel Bryant told Columbus Dispatch newspaper that the teen was involved in an altercation with someone in their nursing home.

“She was a good kid, she loved,” the aunt told reporters Tuesday, according to a video posted on Twitter. “She doesn’t deserve to die like a dog on the street.”

Hazel Bryant could not be reached immediately on Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the “tragic” shootings.

“She was a child. We think of her friends and family and the communities that hurt and mourn her loss,” said Psaki.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has opened an investigation into the incident that began when officers responded to a 911 call from someone reporting an attempted stab in a town house at 4:44 p.m. ET (2044 GMT) had southeast side, said Woods.

In a rare move by a law enforcement agency, Columbus police quickly released Reardon’s body camera video of the incident, in which Bryant appears to be attempting to stab two women.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told reporters Wednesday that the city had done so in the interests of transparency and would release more videos of the event in the coming days and weeks.

“It’s very important to be as transparent and responsive as possible,” said Ginther. “The public deserves to know what is happening.”

The video shows the police driving to a chaotic scene in which several people have gathered on a lawn. Bryant brandished a knife, charged at one person who was falling backwards, and then lunged at a second person.

A slow motion replay shows the second victim stumbling backwards into a car parked in the driveway of the house while Bryant raises the gun as if to stab it and Reardon fires what sounds like four shots.

Bryant instantly falls against the parked car and to the ground, and the gun, which looks like a kitchen knife, lies on the sidewalk near her when an officer crouches by her side to provide medical assistance.

Around the time the video was released, a crowd of protesters gathered outside the city police station and sang “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Girls Matter,” according to a video posted on Twitter.

“When officers are confronted with someone using lethal force, lethal force may be the response the officer gives,” Interim Chief Woods told reporters on Wednesday. He declined to comment specifically on the case until the BCI’s investigation was completed.

“It’s a tragedy, there is no other way to express it,” he added.

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