There will never be a police shooting of a black person that doesn’t spark some degree of outrage, it seems. In some cases, I can get it. If you’ve been told the police are your enemy and are out to kill you, and then someone dies, why wouldn’t you get upset?
However, there are times in which you look and you have to recognize that the threat warranted the actions.
That certainly seems to be the case after a teenage girl was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio.
An Ohio police officer shot and killed a teenage girl Tuesday as she attacked two other people with what appeared to be a knife in east Columbus, body camera footage released just hours after the fatal shooting shows.
Police were called to the scene around 4:30 p.m. on a report of someone attempting to stab others at a home.
As soon as police pulled up, a young female can be seen tackling another female to the ground with what appeared to be a knife in her hand. The girl can then be seen charging at another nearby female while raising the apparent knife in the air, at which point the officer fired multiple shots, fatally wounding the attacker.
“She came at them with a knife,” the officer can be heard saying as other officers tended to the girl on the ground.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is now investigating the incident, but Columbus Police Department interim chief Michael Woods said during a press conference late Tuesday that his department wanted to release the bodycam footage as soon as possible for transparency.
“We took some unprecedented steps tonight,” Woods said. “We’ve never been able to release video this fast, but we thought it was important to share with the community, to be transparent about this incident, to let them have some answers that we can provide tonight.”
He added that investigators will look into whether the fatal shooting complies with state law that says, “deadly force can be used to protect yourself or the protection of a third person.”
Of course, the situation is a bit more complicated.
The victim, 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, had apparently been the one to call the police because she was worried about getting jumped by the other girls. In many people’s minds, that makes her immune to police intervention or whatever.
Unfortunately for Bryant, she was the one who had a knife. This wasn’t a case of just an innocent young girl just standing there and the police shot her. She may have feared an attack, but she had a weapon and was apparently in the process of attacking someone else.
Based on the information as we see it now, the officer doesn’t appear to have had much of a choice. It was either shoot or allow someone to get stabbed to death right in front of him.
I know where I’d rather come down in that instance.
Unsurprisingly, though, the Monday morning quarterbacks are outraged because not only did police shoot the one who made the call, they shot her four times.
For those folks, understand that when an officer–or anyone trying to stop a violent attack–you start shooting and you don’t stop until the attack is clearly over. Yes, you do that even when the attacker is a 15-year-old girl.
Honestly, there’s going to be more talk about police brutality, police shootings, and all that. What we really need to do, though, is talk about what’s so broken in our culture that a 15-year-old girl started attacking others with a knife.