The Columbus, Ohio police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant last year was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing as Ohio prosecutors announced on Friday.
Bryant was shot in April by officer Nicholas Reardon while she was swinging a knife at a fellow young woman, not long after she pushed another woman onto the ground.
Police were responding to a 911 call that was made from Bryant’s foster home regarding a group of several girls threatening to stab members of the household.
The shooting led to a Justice Department investigation of the police department in the capital city of the state. Bryant was shot a total of four times and passed as a result of her injuries. The killing also heightened tensions in Columbus over instances of fatal police shootings of black people as it also cast a light on the state’s foster care system.
When announcing the grand jury decision, special prosecutors Tim Merkle and Gary Shroyer said, “Under Ohio law the use of deadly force by a police officer is justified when there exists an immediate or imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another.”
Bryant’s family released a statement, noting their disappointment that Reardon was not charged. “There should have been other non-deadly options available to deal with this situation.” The family additionally called for “full-scale changes” to the state’s foster-care system to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
“Ohio’s foster care system is failing our children and we cannot stand by and allow this to continue. As the one-year anniversary of Ma’Khia’s death approaches, her family is resolute in their fight for justice on her behalf.”
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