• Tia Butts

The Police Conundrum in the Case of Ma'khia Bryant

As we've seen the George Floyd trial wrap up, most people are genuinely relieved to see there being some type of accountability being served to officers that kill black people unjustly. However, not long before the results of the Floyd case came in, a young girl named Ma’khia Bryant was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio.

As soon as this came out, people on both sides were riled up. Many people were upset because they felt as if the police brutality was continuing to happen before the Floyd case was even resolved. In fact, I remember hearing about it right after Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict, but at the time, there was very little information given on what happened, so I figured I would wait until I knew more before speaking on the situation.

Within two days, a better description of what happened was revealed. A young girl named Ma’Khia Bryant (who lives at a foster home) called police when several girls were outside of her house trying to fight her. It is unclear of what happened between the phone call and the police arrival, but body cam footage shows two people fighting on the side and Bryant wielding something (it is said to be a knife but the footage doesn’t clearly show that) and about to use that “thing” on someone else. Four gunshots are heard and then the video is over. The police opened fire on Bryant and shot her four times in the chest. She died later at the hospital. Here is the footage:

The simple fact that this was a young black teenager killed by a police officer under any circumstances is enough to get people in an uproar right now. But I think this is a case where people should look at the facts and the way everything unfolded.

In this particular instance, police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they hadn’t opened fire when they did, the girl would have possibly been stabbed and killed. If that had happened, then people would have felt like the police didn’t care about black lives enough to save someone from being killed. Unfortunately, they did open fire and a young black girl was killed as a result.

There has been discussion of why they couldn’t tase Bryant, but given the time and aim, that may not have worked, either.

I think that maybe they had to open fire in this situation, but I just don’t understand why they have to shoot so many times - they shot Ma’khyia Bryant four times, and that just seems excessive. I think that if they had shot her once, she may have lived.

I don’t think they should have shot her as many times as they did, but I also don’t think this was a George Floyd type situation in any way. There was an absolute disregard for life in the George Floyd case and I think in every way Derek Chauvin did not even look at George Floyd as a person - that’s why in his mind it was okay to kneel on his neck for nine minutes.

I’m still sad to see black people dying at the hands of police officers in any case, but I think that can’t let our anger over what happened to George Floyd get in the way of us being rational and continuing to judge police shootings on a case-by-case basis.

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