Ma’Khia Bryant‘s family seeks to remember her the way they’ve always seen her, as a bright, affectionate girl with lots of vivacity and promise.
“I want the world to know that Ma’Khia Bryant was a very loving 16-year-old girl. She was my daughter, my baby. I loved her. She was very talented and smart. She was funny. Her favorite color was blue,” Paula Bryant, Ma’Khia’s mother, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
In her last days, Ma’Khia’s family says that her and her mother were working to cultivate their relationship strained by the distance of foster care.
“They had a close bond, Don Bryant, a cousin of Ma’Khia’s mother, told The Washington Post. “Ma’Khia was just an all-around good person,”
Social media imagery of Ma’Khia shows her most playful side, just being an ordinary teen who used her Tik Tok to make videos detailing her love of cosmetology and dance, away from her worries and emotional pain.
Little did she know that death awaited her before her dreams would materialize.
“She laughed a lot,” said Ila Bryant, Ma’Khia’s great-grandmother. “Intellectually, she was very intelligent.”
“But she didn’t even have a chance to live her life or make decisions,” she continued. “Justice was not done.”
On Tuesday her life was cut short as she was fired upon by Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon, after responding to a call about a possible act of violence at Ma’Khia’s foster home. In the video Reardon arrives to the driveway of a home where Ma’Khia can be seen lunging forward at two different women with a knife. As Reardon orders her to release the weapon, he fires, striking her as she slumps onto the ground.
The imagery is hard for Bryant, who told The Post that he found Ma’Khia to be unrecognizable in that moment.
“There are other disengagement techniques that police could have used here,” said Bryant, a former Mansfield, Ohio city council member. “I’m a supporter of police, as former city councilor. I understood their moves, their tactics, what they do. I just don’t understand what happened here.”
With the ongoing narratives that a 16-year-old child’s murder was justifiable, Ma’Khia’s family are hoping that their memories of her will help dull out the noise of the public, unwarranted demonization’s of Ma’Khia’s character.
Her family, like many of the other’s who now share the same heartbreak, want police accountability and transparency, where questions remain around what transpired on Tuesday, April 20.
The Columbus Police Department remains a topic of heavy criticism for Columbus organizers and activists who believe that the city has done little to repair the wounds made from the back-to-back killings of Andre Hill and Casey Goodson.
But Ma’Khia’s murder reminds us that Black men are not the only people subject to police violence. In Columbus, children routinely lose their lives at the hands of law enforcement. A report by the Insider shows that since 2013, the Columbus Police Department and the New York City Police Department tied with five killings each of people under age 18. The Chicago Police Department topped the list with a total of 12 killings, including the tragic shooting death of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old child.
Community leaders are calling for a Department of Justice Probe into the Columbus Police Department, similar to the one recently enacted upon the Minneapolis Police Department after the killing of George Floyd.