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Police release footage, 911 calls in shooting of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant

April 20 (UPI) -- Authorities in Columbus, Ohio, released body camera footage and 911 calls from an incident in which a police officer fatally shot a teenage girl while responding to a disturbance call at a residence.

Police on Wednesday said Columbus officer Nicholas Reardon shot and killed 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant after she was seen attacking another female with a knife on Tuesday afternoon.

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"I wish to hell it hadn't happened," interim police Chief Michael Woods said.

During a news conference Tuesday night, Woods released graphic body-worn camera footage of the shooting, saying Reardon shot the girl as she was attempting to stab someone.

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"This is a tragic incident for all involved but especially for the family of the female," he said.

Woods said officers arrived at the residence about 4:44 p.m. after dispatch received a call that "females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them."

A caller can be heard screaming in a 911 call placed at 4:32 p.m. Tuesday, asking police to come and saying someone is trying to stab them. The call disconnects after more screaming.

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In a second call placed around 4:48 p.m., the caller hung up after seeing police at the scene.

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Footage released to the public shows Reardon arriving first at the residence amid a fight among several people.

Woods said the video shows Bryant pushing another female to the ground in an attempt to stab her before attempting to stab a third female whom she had pressed up to the side of a car.

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Reardon can be heard saying "get down" multiple times in the footage and then at least four gunshots are heard before the girl falls to the ground but police have not confirmed whether additional shots were fired.

Franklin County Children Services confirmed that Bryant was in foster care under their custody.

Donavon Brinson, who lives across the street from the foster home, told The Columbus Dispatch that he saw the fight and after hearing the gunshots reviewed security camera footage from his garage.

"If the officer hadn't done what he did, I think we'd have two girls dead," Brinson told the paper. "It was violent and all just happened so fast."

The Columbus Police Department took Reardon, who was hired in December 2019, off street duty and Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation launched a criminal investigation, Woods said.

He said policy permits police to use force in order to protect themselves or a third person, saying that if an officer is "faced with someone employing deadly force, deadly force can be the response."

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He said the ongoing investigation will determine whether the actions of the officer fall under what is considered permissible.

Woods also commented on policy surrounding the use of stun guns over firearms.

"If there's not deadly force being perpetrated on someone else at that time, an officer may have the opportunity to have cover distance and time to use a Taser," he said. "But if those things are not present and there's an active assault going on in which someone could lose their life, the officer can use their firearm to protect that third person."

Colombus Mayor Andrew Ginther said Tuesday was a "tragic day in the city of Columbus" and described the shooting as a "horrible, heartbreaking situation."

Ginther added that "we don't yet have all of the facts" of the case.

"Bottom line: Did Ma'Khia Bryant need to die yesterday?" he said "How did we get here? This is a failure on the part of our community. Some are guilty but all of us are responsible."

The shooting occurred as the verdict was read convicting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder in the Memorial Day death of George Floyd.

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J. Bennett Guess, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, tweeted that the Minneapolis verdict "does not equal justice in Ohio or anywhere."

"Stop the police brutality of Black lives," he said.

The ACLU said in a statement that the news of the Black teen's death broke "moments after we celebrated a win for police accountability in Minneapolis."

"The systems that allowed George Floyd to be murdered remain FULLY intact," the ACLU said.

Protests took place in downtown Columbus near the scene of the shooting and students at Ohio State University staged a sit-in on the campus.

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