Here’s the most read “news” story in the Washington Post right now, another example of upside-down article construction in which the facts are withheld until long after most readers have moved on:
Body camera footage from a Columbus police officer’s fatal shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant sparked protests for the second night in a row on April 21. (The Washington Post)
By Randy Ludlow, Derek Hawkins, Paulina Firozi and Toluse Olorunnipa
April 21, 2021 at 4:23 p.m. PDT
COLUMBUS — Body camera footage from a Columbus police officer’s fatal shooting of a Black teenager sparked outcry and protests from local activists, national leaders and even the White House on Wednesday,
Those outraged by the body camera footage included Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli, and Jose Feliciano.
as it became the latest in a string of deadly videos documenting the final moments of a person of color killed by law enforcement.
The death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who was shot by Officer Nicholas Reardon on Tuesday during an altercation, comes as the nation is undergoing a broad reckoning over police brutality and racism. Her name joins a long and growing list of Black people killed by police officers in deadly interactions that have sparked protests and broad calls for justice.
In a sign of how effective those protests have been in drawing public attention to the issue of police violence, the details of the shooting were swiftly briefed to President Biden, whose administration has pledged to address systemic racism and overhaul policing.
“The killing of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant by the Columbus police is tragic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday. “She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family in the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss.”
As Psaki was drawing a connection between Bryant’s killing and the broader trend of disproportionate use of force against minorities by police, officials in Columbus sought to calm tensions by quickly releasing information about the incident.
“I wish to hell it hadn’t happened,” interim police chief Michael Woods told reporters after releasing the footage and the 911 calls that led officers to respond. Woods said the officer has been with the department since December 2019 and has been placed on administrative leave.
The shooting, which took place in a residential neighborhood in the city’s southeast, occurred just minutes before a Minneapolis jury announced it had found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd last year. Even as activists celebrated the verdict as a rare instance of police accountability, some pointed to Bryant’s killing as an example of the kind of systemic racism that persists in the country’s policing practices.
Okay, now the readers, if any are left, are sufficiently prepped for a few, but not many, facts, which will presented in a confusing and dull way:
The footage released Wednesday shows a chaotic scene. The officer identified as Reardon arrives during a physical altercation involving several people. Reardon, who is White, can be seen emerging from his vehicle as Bryant appears to chase someone, who falls onto the sidewalk. The teen then turns toward someone else wearing a pink sweatsuit and takes a swing at her head, with what appears to be a blade briefly visible in her hand.
You see, the blade was only briefly visible, so therefore that’s like it almost didn’t really exist.
The officer yells, “Get down!” multiple times before firing four shots at the girl, leaving her sprawled next to a car in the driveway.
“She had a knife. She just ran at her,” one officer says on the footage.
Well, he would say that.
… Hazel Bryant, who said she is Bryant’s aunt, told The Washington Post in a brief interview Wednesday that “the body cam doesn’t show the truth of what occurred.” She said she didn’t personally witness the incident but arrived at the scene soon after. She described her niece as “so loving and kind.”
Others asked why police didn’t do more to try to de-escalate the situation before the officer opened fire.
“As soon as he got out of the car, he had the gun ready to shoot somebody,” Kiara Yakita, founder and president of the grass-roots group Black Liberation Movement Central Ohio, told The Post. “Law enforcement and city officials are rushing to make excuses because she had a knife. Those excuses are not valid to me.” …
The shooting has inflamed tensions between police and residents in the city of about 900,000, which was already grappling with the fallout from the fatal police shootings of Casey Goodson Jr., 23, and Andre Hill, 47, both Black men who were killed in December. …
Biden, who has called Chauvin’s conviction the first step in a broader fight for racial justice, told members of Floyd’s family that he would push for new laws aimed at increasing police accountability. Psaki reiterated those sentiments while speaking to reporters Wednesday.
“Our focus is on working to address systemic racism and implicit bias head on and, of course, to passing laws and legislation that will put much-needed reforms into place at police departments around the country,” she said.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), the only two Black Democrats in the Senate, were among several high-ranking officials pointing to Bryant’s death as an example of the need to overhaul policing.
“Ma’Khia Bryant was only 16 years old — killed by police yesterday,” Booker wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “She deserves justice and accountability. We must reform this deeply broken system. My heart is with Ma’Khia’s loved ones.”
In Ohio, Bryant’s death sparked calls for change from local activists and elected leaders alike. Hundreds of demonstrators staged a sit-in at Ohio State University’s student union Wednesday and then marched through town in protest. The previous night, about 100 protesters circled the streets of downtown Columbus. They were followed by vehicles honking horns, waving Black Lives Matter flags and chanting, “No justice, no peace,” as they passed the Statehouse, city hall and police headquarters.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) addressed Bryant’s death at a news conference, saying that he had watched video of the shooting and that the investigation must “play out.”
“Any time anyone is killed, it’s a tragedy. Any time a teenager, a child, is killed, it’s a horrible tragedy,” DeWine said.
In Wednesday tweets calling for statewide police changes, DeWine said the nation “must learn from the tragic death of George Floyd.” DeWine said his office has worked with state Rep. Phil Plummer (R) — a former Montgomery County sheriff — on a legislative package to be introduced within the next few days.