Gender and Africana Studies Professor Brittney Cooper suggested Thursday that 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer for “not being perfect” and “having a bad day.”
Cooper made the claim while appearing on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” and argued that because Bryant was black, and a “big girl,” she was “adultified” by police, who saw her as an aggressor, leading to her being shot. (RELATED: Leo Terrell Flames LeBron James For Tweet Targeting Cop: He ‘Owes This Officer An Apology’)
Bryant was shot and killed by police officer Nicholas Reardon on Tuesday as she attempted to attack another individual with a knife. Reardon repeatedly told Bryant to “get down” before opening fire on her. The officers attended to Bryant and called medical personnel to help, but she ultimately passed away. Immediately following the shooting, incorrect media reports said that the 16-year-old girl was unarmed.
Host Joy Reid began the discussion on Bryant by claiming that people who had compassion for the family of George Floyd after he was killed in a police encounter, are “flipping” to say Bryant “deserved to die.” She then asked Cooper to give her thoughts.
“Look, the argument for our movements has never been that black people have to be perfect in order for them to deserve dignity, for us to have good policing, for us to be viewed with humanity, for cops to take a breath before they literally get out of the car guns blazing,” Cooper responded.
“That this is never what the argument for the movement for black lives has been, is that you just get to kill black people, particularly when they’re not being perfect,” she continued.
She argued that the prosecution in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted in the death of George Floyd, “had to be impeccable” in order to get the conviction, and that “no black person is really, truly going to be safe if we cannot be having a bad day.”
“But beyond all of that, what are we going to do about the way that we don’t understand black girls as girls. Ma’khia Bryant was a child,” Cooper continued, “and the way that she has been talked about as this, you know, because she was a big girl … and so people just see her as the aggressor, they don’t see her humanity, they have adultified her.”
She then claimed that people look at black girls and are unable to see them as children, and that she has seen people across the political spectrum defend the police officer who shot Bryant because “he didn’t have any other set of choices.”
“What are we training police to do if they are not actually showing up on the scene and making the situation better for all involved? If you can’t figure out how to de-escalate a 16-year-old, even with a kitchen knife, when you’ve a gun and you’re a grown man, you shouldn’t be a cop. That’s just it,” she concluded.