(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The attorney for the family of Ma’Khia Bryant said in a press conference Wednesday that they will be calling for federal investigations into the April 20 killing of the 16-year-old girl.
Attorney Michelle Martin of The Martin Law Firm said she will be fighting to see a Health and Human Services investigation into Ohio’s foster care system, which Bryant was a part of. She is also calling for an investigation from the Department of Justice into the shooting.
“We are here, and we’re going to investigate every agency that had a time and an opportunity to prevent Ma’Khia’s death,” Martin said. “We will push for those investigations beyond this shooting. All systems failed her.”
Her family tearfully remembered the teenager.
“I want the world to know my baby was a talented, bubbly, loving teenager,” Paula Bryant, Ma’Khia Bryant’s mother, said. “She never should’ve been gone from this world. She had a full life ahead of her that ended in tragedy. I love my baby. She was a good little girl.”
Bryant’s father, grandmother and aunt also spoke about the 16-year-old, calling her “vibrant” and saying she had a “mother’s instinct” of caring for her family members.
“To know her was to know peace,” Myron Hammonds, Bryant’s father, said.
Bryant’s family members told the Associated Press that the teenager was the one who called 911 and summoned police to the scene in a plea for help.
“We got these grown girls over here trying to fight us. Trying to stab us,” a female voice says on the 911 call, which Interim Police Chief Michael Woods played at an April 21 press conference. “Get here now!”
The woman who cared for Bryant in foster care, Angela Moore, later told CNN that a fight began between Bryant and two former foster family members about the home being messy.
Officer Nicholas Reardon was dispatched three minutes after the 911 call, according to Columbus officials. Reardon arrived on the scene at approximately 4:44 p.m. and exited the car to see Bryant rushing toward 20-year-old Shai-Onta Lana Craig-Watkins with a kitchen knife and then charging at 22-year-old Tionna Bonner, the body camera footage shows.
Reardon then yelled “Get down!” and shot Bryant four times, 11 seconds after he exited his vehicle.
“If we sweep this under the rug, without answering to Ma’Khia’s pain, then we fail her again,” Martin said in the press conference. “If you’re not angry about why this continues to happen, then you are truly the problem. We have to protect our children, they are our core.”
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating Reardon’s actions for potential wrongdoing, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said. Reardon was hired in December 2019 and is off street duty until the investigation is concluded.
Bryant’s cousins Don Bryant and Deja Torrence released a statement on the family’s behalf following her death. They said the teenager was “loved by many” in the area and are demanding justice for her death.
“Ma’Khia was a good student, a good person and did not deserve what happened to her,” the statement read. “We want to remind everyone Ma’Khia was only a 16-year-old teenage girl. We are deeply disturbed by the unproportionate and unjustified use of force in this situation.”
Bryant’s funeral will be held in Columbus at the First Church of God at 12 p.m. on Friday.
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