The claim: Ma’Khia Bryant was shot after approaching officer to explain her situation
It’s been almost three days since police shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, on April 20. In that span of time, we have seen Bryant’s early and violent death cause protest, mourning and continued debate over police violence against Black Americans.
While police conduct their investigation and many details remain unclear, misinformation about the incident has circulated widely on social media.
As USA TODAY reported, one widely shared post falsely stated that Bryant was not holding a knife at the time of the shooting.
Another post, shared on the evening of April 20, claims Bryant was shot after approaching an officer at the scene.
“After Being Attacked By Some Girls In Her Neighborhood, 16 Year Old Makhia Bryant Called The Columbus Ohio Police Dept For Help, After Police Made The Scene, Makhia Approached The Officer To Explain Her Situation And The Police Shot Her Around 4 Times [sic],” wrote user John McNeary in the post.
USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.
Columbus officials have not yet clarified several details of the case, including whether Bryant made the 911 call.
But the claim about approaching police before the shooting is incorrect. Bodycam footage and video from a neighbor’s security camera shows Bryant did not approach officers for assistance.
What we know about the shooting
In a press conference on April 21, the day after the shooting occurred, Columbus' interim police chief released bodycam footage from the point of view of two officers at the scene: Officer Nicholas Reardon, who fired the fatal shots, and Officer Serge Acapallo, who arrived slightly after Reardon.
In addition, a resident of a house across the street from the foster home where Bryant lived released wide-angled security camera footage of the incident to police and the Columbus Dispatch.
In the security camera footage, about seven people can be seen outside of the foster home. Just after Reardon exits his car, Bryant charges at a girl who falls to the ground in front of him. At this moment, the officer lunges toward Bryant, but cannot reach her.
Just seconds later, Reardon's body camera shows Bryant with a knife in hand, lunging towards a young woman who is pinned against a car. As Bryant reaches back with the knife, Reardon fires four shots.
About 10 seconds passed between the officer's arrival and the shooting.
Before the confrontation, the Columbus Department of Public Safety received two 911 calls asking officers for assistance at the foster home where Bryant lived. The second caller hung up as police arrived at 4:44 p.m.
Columbus police have not yet identified the 911 callers, so it is unclear whether it was Bryant who called for help. However, no footage shows Bryant approaching police officers before the shooting occurred.
Our rating: False
We rate the claim Bryant approached police at the scene before the shooting FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. Bodycam and security footage of the shooting shows Bryant did not approach police after they arrived at the scene.
Our fact-check sources:
City of Columbus (Youtube), "April 21, Press conference on police-involved shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant"
USA TODAY, April 21, "Fact check: Ma'Khia Bryant was holding a knife when shot by police"
USA TODAY, April 22, "Protests across Columbus following fatal police shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant: What we know"
Columbus Dispatch, April 21, "Ma'Khia Bryant shooting: Columbus police release 911 calls, ID of officer involved"
Columbus Dispatch, April 21, 'I figured it was just a girl fight.' Neighborhood witnesses saw argument before police shot Ma'Khia Bryant
ABC-6 Columbus, April 21, "Police: Ohio BCI to investigate who made 911 calls as part of Ma'Khia Bryant investigation"
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Ma'Khia Bryant did not approach officer before shooting