Columbus police ID cop who fatally shot Ma’khia Bryant, release 911 calls as officials urge public not to ‘rush to judgment’

Flowers are seen in front of the home on Legion Lane where a Columbus, Ohio, police officer shot and killed 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant. (Fred Squillante/Columbus Dispatch/TNS)
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Nelson Oliveira New York Daily News (TNS)

Authorities in Ohio have identified the Columbus police officer who fatally shot Black teenager Ma’khia Bryant on Tuesday — with a city official calling the incident a “horrendous tragedy” but urging the public to be patient as the investigation continues.

Officer Nicholas Reardon, one of several cops who responded to the chaotic scene, was identified Wednesday as the one who killed the armed 16-year-old girl. He has been a Columbus police officer since December 2019 and is being placed on administrative leave, officials said at a news conference.

Police also released audio of the two 911 calls about the incident and new bodycam footage from other officers at the scene. In the first call, a woman or girl was heard asking police to come to the house and saying someone was trying to stab people there. Authorities have not confirmed the caller’s identify, but Ma’khia’s mother told reporters it was her daughter who called asking for help during an attack.

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“Grandma! Grandma!” someone was heard shouting in the background of the call while others screamed.

The videos, which were similar to one released Tuesday night, appeared to show the 16-year-old with a knife in her hand and lunging toward two women in a residential driveway. Shots were heard moments later and Ma’khia immediately fell to the ground.

The bodycam footage also showed emergency workers performing CPR on Ma’khia as she lay on the ground after being shot.

“Come on Ma’khia, stay with us,” an officer repeatedly said.

The shooting, which happened moments before a jury convicted ex-cop Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, sparked outrage across the community as it involved another person of color killed by a police officer. At least 200 protesters gathered outside the city’s police headquarters hours later to call for justice and transparency in the case.

Columbus Safety Director Ned Pettus asked that the public “not rush to judgment” as a “fully independent investigation” is just beginning.

“I understand the outrage and emotion around this incident,” he told reporters Wednesday. “A teenage girl is dead, and she’s dead at the hands of a police officer. Under any circumstances that is a horrendous tragedy, but the video shows that there’s more to this.

“We have to ask ourselves … what would have happened if he had taken no action at all?” Pettus said of the officer who fired his weapon.

Mayor Andrew Ginther also pleaded for patience and said the whole community has work to do.

“We don’t yet have all the facts, but we do know that a 16-year-old girl, a child in this community, tragically died last night,” he said. “Bottom line, did Ma’Khia Bryant need to die yesterday? How did we get here? This is a failure of our community. Some are guilty, but all of us are responsible.”

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