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Ma'Khia Bryant, the Ohio teenager who was shot to death by a police officer on Tuesday afternoon, had been embroiled in an argument with two women about housework, her foster parent told reporters this week.
Ma'Khia was seen in a police body camera video lunging at another woman with a knife before an approaching officer fired his service weapon and killed the Black 16-year-old outside the Columbus home. Angela Moore told CNN that two of her former foster children had returned to celebrate her birthday when an argument with Bryant about the state of the house and an unmade bed quickly became violent.
"It was over keeping the house clean," she told the network. "The older one told them to clean up the house because 'Mom doesn't like the house dirty’ …so that's how it all started. They argue all the time but I never thought it would escalate like that."
Moore learned of Bryant's death when one of the young woman (who is seen in the footage wearing a pink outfit) called her in a panic to tell her what had happened.
Moore told the network that Bryant was a fun teenager who enjoyed dancing and cooking while in her care. Since her death, videos the teen had uploaded to TikTok — including one of her showing her hair routine as she dances to a Bryson Tiller song — have gone viral.
“This never should have happened. She’s a loving girl,” her mother, Paula Bryant, told local station WBNS on Tuesday. “I’m very upset. I’m hurt. I want answers.”
Ma'Khia Bryant was a foster child under the care of Franklin County Children Services. Paula Bryant told the station that while her daughter was living in Moore’s home, she told her mother that she'd made the honor roll. Paula Bryant hoped to bring Ma’Khia and her sister home to live with her, she said, adding that she believes that her daughter had called 911 “for protection, not to be a homicide.”
Two 911 calls were placed indicating a disturbance at the house, but police have said it’s unclear who had made the calls. The first emergency call was made at 4:32 p.m. Officers weren't dispatched to the home on the city’s southeast side until 4:35 p.m. It’s unclear what caused the delay.
In the body camera footage, Ma'Khia Bryant is seen lunging toward two people and swinging what appears to be a knife. The officer, Nicholas Reardon, arrives and then almost immediately fires four shots at the teenager’s torso.
“Get down! Get down!” an officer is heard yelling just before the four shots are fired. Later, an officer is heard saying, "She had a knife. She just went at her.”
Reardon, 23, was hired in December 2019 and his probationary period ended in December, his personnel file reportedly indicates. He has been relieved of street duty as the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations probes the fatal incident.
Reardon had served in the Ohio National Guard beginning in August 2015, according to records. He is the son of Columbus Police Department Sgt. Ed Reardon, who retired in 2020 after 32 years on the force. The elder Reardon trained over 700 officers, the department indicated in a tweet.
On Wednesday Interim Police Chief Michael Woods said at a press conference that he sees the situation as a tragedy.
“There's no other way to say it. It's a 16-year-old girl," he told reporters.
City of Columbus Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. said at a Wednesday press conference that there are multiple questions that need to be answered about the fatal shooting.
"The video shows that there is more to this. It requires us to pause, to take a close look at the sequence of events and — though it's not easy — wait for the facts as determined by an independent investigation," Pettus said. "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 had he taken no action at all?"
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