Black teenage girl fatally shot by police in Columbus, Ohio, family says
Neil Vigdor and Bryan Pietsch,
New York Times Service
April 20, 2021
A teenage girl was fatally shot by police in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon, officials said, shortly before a jury reached a guilty verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in last year’s killing of George Floyd.
The girl’s death cast an immediate pall over public expressions that justice had been served in Floyd’s case and touched off protests in Ohio’s capital city.
The Columbus Division of Police did not immediately provide details about the shooting, which was confirmed on Twitter by the city’s mayor, Andrew Ginther, who said there was police body camera footage of the confrontation and urged residents to keep the peace as protesters descended on the scene.
“This afternoon a young woman tragically lost her life,” Ginther said. “We do not know all of the details. There is body-worn camera footage of the incident. We are working to review it as soon as possible.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported that police had been responding to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing when the shooting took place around 4:45 p.m. in the southeastern part of Columbus. The verdict in the Chauvin case was announced about 20 minutes later.
Ginther said that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation would conduct an independent inquiry, which he said is standard whenever an officer shoots someone.
“We will share information that we can as soon as it becomes available,” he said. “I’m asking for residents to remain calm and allow BCI to gather the facts.”
A woman interviewed by The Dispatch identified the victim, who was Black, as her 15-year-old niece. The woman, Hazel Bryant, told the newspaper that her niece lived in a foster home and got into an altercation with someone else at the home.
Bryant said her niece had a knife, but maintained that the girl had dropped the knife before she was shot multiple times by a police officer, the newspaper reported.
The Columbus Division of Police did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday night. A crowd of protesters gathered outside the city’s police building, local news media reported.
The teenager’s death quickly received widespread attention, including from Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, amid a continuing reckoning over police accountability and systemic racism.
“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,” Crump said. “Another child lost! Another hashtag.”
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