Family and friends of the 16-year-old Ohio girl killed last week by Columbus police said their final goodbyes Friday at a prominent church that has played host to other high-profile funerals.
Mourners flocked to First Church of God in Columbus to honor Ma’Khia Bryant, the girl fatally shot by police during an April 20 confrontation that’s being probed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
“The facts is Ma’Khia was a 16-year-old child, a teenage girl who did not deserve this,” cousin Don Bryant told mourners. “The family is sad. The family is hurt. The family is angry. We look at a grieving mother and father who miss their daughter so much.”
The shooting unfolded as Officer Nick Reardon arrived at the scene of a reported disturbance, body camera video has shown.
Reardon drew his weapon as a person wearing a black T-shirt is seen with an object in her right hand that she raises toward a second person before Reardon fires.
Police picked up what appeared to be a knife near the girl’s body, and an officer could be heard on camera saying: “She had a knife. She just went at her.”
The girl whom police shot and killed was identified as the 16-year-old Bryant. She was Black and the rookie officer who shot her white.
The principal at Bryant’s school urged mourners to become peace makers.
“We have an opportunity as Black men to rise up in our communities to police our own streets,” said Emmanuel Anthony, principal at The Academy for Urban Scholars.
“And learn de-escalation and learn conflict resolution, so that when the police come we can tell them where to go because as Black men we got this.”
Jamal Harrison Bryant, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia, led Friday’s services and wondered out loud about how the slain 16-year-old’s week should have unfolded.
“Today she should have been thinking about SATs, thinking about the prom, thinking about going to Central (State University) or Wilberforce or to Spelman or to Howard,” Bryant said, naming some of the region and nation’s historic Black colleges and universities
“The reality is we can’t sugarcoat the fact we shouldn’t be here today.”
Bryant’s killing came within an hour of a Minneapolis jury convicting former officer Derek Chauvin, and has put Columbus — America’s 14th largest city with nearly 900,000 residents — on edge, following two other Black people killed by police.
“Ask yourselves, ‘What are you doing to make sure no more Ma’Khias are taken from us?’ What are you doing?” Bryant said, “Are we just talking about it or are we doing something about it. Doing nothing is not an option.”
First Church of God was also the venue for the funerals of Casey Goodson Jr. and Andre Hill.
Goodson, 23, was shot and killed by a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy on the doorstop of his grandmother’s home on Dec. 4, officials said. He’d just returned to the home with sandwiches he purchased for the family, relatives have said.
Hill, 47, was killed on Dec. 22 when police responded to a call of a person repeatedly turning a car engine on and off again. An officer fatally shot Hill, believing he had a gun in his hand, authorities said.
The now-former officer’s attorney said his client mistook a key ring in Hill’s hand for a weapon. No gun was found at the scene.
Also in attendance at Friday’s services were Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and Tamika Parker, the mother of Breonna Taylor. The 26-year-old Taylor was killed by police during a botched raid in Louisville.