Media outlets and public figures immediately reported Tuesday afternoon that police had killed an unarmed 16-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio. As it turns out, they were wrong.
Police did shoot and kill 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, but she was armed. Body camera footage from the incident showed Bryant pushing one woman down on the sidewalk before swinging a knife at a different woman. Police shot the teenager multiple times after repeatedly telling her to “get down.”
Instead of waiting for the facts, people claimed that Bryant was unarmed. Many of the posts saying that the teenager was unarmed were still up as of Wednesday afternoon, even after body camera footage clearly showed that she had a knife. The tweets had been shared thousands of times. (RELATED: LeBron James Tweets Picture Of Officer Involved In Ma’Khia Bryant Shooting, Says ‘YOU’RE NEXT’)
“There has been yet another police shooting of an unarmed 16 year old Black teen girl by police in #ColumbusOhio,” CNN Legal Analyst Areva Martin wrote Tuesday night on Twitter.
There has been yet another police shooting of an unarmed 16 year old Black teen girl by police in #ColumbusOhio ????????♀️????????
— Areva Martin, Esq. (@ArevaMartin) April 21, 2021
George Floyd’s family attorney, Ben Crump, said that Columbus police had killed an unarmed black girl.
“As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as @ColumbusPolice killed an unarmed 15yo Black girl named Makiyah Bryant,” Crump said. “Another child lost! Another hashtag. #JusticeForMakiyahBryant”
As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as @ColumbusPolice killed an unarmed 15yo Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. Another child lost! Another hashtag. ✊????????????#JusticeForMakiyahBryant https://t.co/9ssR5gfqm5
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 21, 2021
Other public figures repeated the false claim.
A little over an hour after the Chauvin verdict, Ma’Khia Bryant, a young black girl in Ohio who called the cops to break up a fight in her yard, was shot multiple times in her chest. She was unarmed, but I’m seeing reports saying there was a knife on the ground near her. https://t.co/9ogsMeFdHQ
— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) April 21, 2021
— Brita Filter (@thebritafilter) April 21, 2021
The Daily Beast cited Bryant’s family members and reported that the teenager was “fending off a physical assault” and “had already dropped the knife in the yard” when police arrived. The outlet has since updated the story.
The Daily Beast did an absolute masterclass in journalism on this one. The left screenshot is what they originally reported about the shooting. The right is what it now says.
The truth is an officer saved somebody from being stabbed. pic.twitter.com/IEhasVyOtQ
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 21, 2021
“Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenage girl, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio, after she called 911 for help when a group of ‘older kids’ threatened her, according to her family,” NPR said. They later posted a follow-up tweet once the body camera footage was released.
“The video clip shows Bryant holding what appears to be a knife during an altercation with two other girls at the scene,” the tweet read.
UPDATE: Police have released body camera footage of the officer who shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. The video clip shows Bryant holding what appears to be a knife during an altercation with two other girls at the scene. https://t.co/b9nX5w05tw
— NPR (@NPR) April 21, 2021
A Washington Post article quoted Bryant’s aunt, Hazel Bryant, who said that she had dropped the knife before police shot her. The article mentioned the body camera footage but did not say that it clearly showed Bryant holding a knife.
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) April 21, 2021