COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant in April 2021 will not be charged, a grand jury decided following an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
Bryant was shot four times in April by Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon as she held and appeared to swing a knife during an altercation with a group of teenage girls.
Police were originally called to the scene for a report of an attempted stabbing. Video from a neighbor's security camera showed a wider view of the incident, and saw the group get larger as Reardon walks up. Within seconds, things appeared to get more physical and then video shows Reardon reach for his gun and fire it four times as Bryant appeared to swing the knife at another female.
Bryant was struck and later died at the hospital.
Following the incident, the a BCI investigation was conducted that included processing the crime scene for evidence, interviewing 19 witnesses and nine law enforcement officers, analyzing 18 items of evidence in the laboratory, reviewing available video of the incident and evaluating the training of involved officers, Attorney General Dave Yost said.
After completing the investigation, BCI then referred the case to the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney on July 7, 2021.
On Friday, following the grand jury's decision not to indict Reardon, Yost released the full investigative files from the case.
“BCI was called to do a thorough, independent investigation of the facts,” Yost said. “I’ve asked for patience while promising transparency, and now is the appropriate time for that work to be made public.”
To view the files, click here.
Michelle Martin, attorney for the family of Ma'Khia Bryant, issued the following statement regarding the grand jury's decision
Ma'Khia Bryant's family is disappointed that a Franklin County grand jury declined to indict the officer who shot and killed her last year. Ma'Khia's family has long wondered why this officer opted for lethal force even though there should have been other non-deadly options available to deal with this situation.
We believe that the tragedy that ultimately resulted in Ma'Khia's death started long before she was shot and killed by a Columbus police officer. There must be full-scale changes made to Ohio's foster care system to ensure that this doesn't happen to another child.
We need to work tirelessly to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society. 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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