Officer Who Shot and Killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant Cleared from Criminal Charges

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Photo:  Ma’Khia Bryant/Don Bryant and Paula Bryant (AP)
Photo: Ma’Khia Bryant/Don Bryant and Paula Bryant (AP)

Last year, Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, was shot and killed by Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon following an altercation between her and a group of girls. Ohio prosecutors announced Friday Reardon has been cleared of criminal charges, reported the Associated Press.

Per AP’s report, Bryant was had swung a knife on previous foster resident Shai-onta Craig and pushed another woman to the ground. When Reardon responded to the call that a group of girls were threatening to stab residents of the home, he told investigators that he thought using mace or physical force would not have been effective in the situation.

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From AP News:

Reardon told investigators he didn’t think using mace or a “hands-on” approach would have worked because of the knife in Bryant’s hand, because he thought he was the only officer on scene and because Bryant appeared much bigger than him.

“At the time I fired my weapon, I was in fear for the life of the female in pink,” Reardon said, referring to Craig.

Bryant was shot four times and died from her injuries. The coroner listed the cause of death as a homicide — a medical determination used in cases where someone has died at someone else’s hand, but not a legal finding. It doesn’t imply criminal intent.

Bryant’s family believed there should have been another way to deescalate the situation, reported AP. Foster parent Angela Moore told investigators before this incident, Bryant and her sisters were never violent but instead tended to argue.

The grand jury concluded the use of deadly force “is justified when there exists an immediate or imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another,” reported AP. However, the city is still going to conduct an internal review to assess Reardon’s actions in comparison to the department’s policy.

Following the hearing, Bryant’s family was not only disappointed in Reardon walking free but also in the foster care system. “Ohio’s foster care system is failing our children and we cannot stand by and allow this to continue. As the one-year anniversary of Ma’Khia’s death approaches, her family is resolute in their fight for justice on her behalf,” Bryant’s family said in a statement.