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State Investigators Send Ma'Khia Bryant Shooting to Prosecutors

a photo of Ma'Khia Bryant
Courtesy of Bryant family
Courtesy of Bryant family
Ma'Khia Bryant, 16, was killed by a Columbus police officer April 20.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the Bureau of Criminal Investigation has finished its probe of the Columbus police shooting death of Ma'Khia Bryant and sent the case to prosecutors for consideration.

A Franklin County grand jury will now be reviewing the Columbus shooting death. The case is being assigned to Special Prosecutors due to a conflict with Franklin County Children Services, that is represented by the Franklin County prosecuting attorney.

Yost's decision does not recommend charges or make any particular call to action.

"BCI investigations into officer-involved critical incidents seek the facts and circumstances of each incident and do not include any determinations of fault. The legality of the actions involved will be determined by the prosecutor and/or grand jury," a press release from Yost's office said.

Bryant, 16, who was Black, was killed by white officer Nicholas Reardon April 20 seconds after he arrived on the scene of a disturbance call at a southeast Columbus foster home where Bryant lived. Reardon shot Bryant as she lunged at a woman with a knife.

Some of Bryant's neighbors and activists have said Reardon fired too quickly after arriving on the scene, while others have said Reardon was forced to act quickly.

Yost's press release says the BCI investigation included:

  • Processing the crime scene for potential evidence, including photographing, searching, measuring, documenting and collecting evidence.
  • Interviewing 15 civilian witnesses and three law enforcement officers.
  • Reviewing all available camera footage of the incident, including from body cameras, dash cameras and surveillance video that captured any portion of the incident.
  • Processing the involved vehicle(s) for potential evidence.
  • Reviewing audio communications, 911/phone communications and dispatch/CAD records pertaining to the incident.
  • Analyzing available cellphone and telephone records.
  • Analyzing in the laboratory seven items, including firearms, bullet casings and projectiles

In addition, Yost asked prosecutors to consider charges related to the March 8 shooting death of Andrew Teague. Teague, a 43-year-old Black man, was killed during a confrontation with Columbus police officer John Kifer and Franklin County sheriff's deputy Michael Severance following a chase on Interstate 270 in which Teague drove the wrong way on the freeway.

Copyright 2021 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and son. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.
Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.