Police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant cleared by grand jury

·3 min read

The police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant as she swung a knife at a young woman during a fight has been cleared by a grand jury.

Officer Nicholas Reardon fatally shot the Black teenager four times after responding to an April 2021 911 call reporting a fight at Bryant’s foster home in Columbus, Ohio.

He was cleared of any criminal wrong doing by a grand jury in Columbus on Friday, prosecutors confirmed.

Bryant’s killing increased racial tensions in the city and led to a Justice Department review of the city’s police department.

“Under Ohio law the use of deadly force by a police officer is justified when there exists an immediate or imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another,” said special prosecutors Tim Merkle and Gary Shroyer as they announced the grand jury’s decision.

Shai-onta Craig, the woman attacked by Bryant, had formerly lived at the foster home but had returned and argued with Bryant on the day of the killing, she later told police.

The decision was welcomed by Reardon’s police union.

“The jury decided to return a no bill which means they did not proceed with any criminal charges against officer Reardon and found no criminal act,” Fraternal Order of Police President Jeff Simpson said.

“That is pleasing to hear. It’s always sad when there is a loss of life, however, the actions of the people at scene, caused him to take action that saved lives and he is trained very well. He did his job, and it is a good outcome.”

And he added: “Nicholas Reardon is an amazing officer, he’s an amazing young man. He’s a veteran and he’s also active in the military right now. He is relieved, he’s happy. His family is happy.

“There’s still a sad reality for him that he was put in a very unfortunate situation and unfortunately, he’s going to have to live with for the rest of his life, but the right thing happened today and he’s going to push through and continue to serve the citizens of Columbus well.”

Following the shooting, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther invited the Justice Department to review the police department for possible “deficiencies and racial disparities.”

The Justice Department accepted that invitation and agreed to review the department’s practices.

“Ma’Khia Bryant’s family is disappointed that a Franklin County grand jury declined to indict the officer who shot and killed her last year. Ma’Khia’s family has long wondered why this officer opted for lethal force even though there should have been other non-deadly options available to deal with this situation,” her family said in a statement.

“We believe that the tragedy that ultimately resulted in Ma’Khia’s death started long before she was shot and killed by a Columbus police officer. There must be full-scale changes made to Ohio’s foster care system to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another child.

“We need to work tirelessly to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society. Ohio’s foster care system is failing our children and we cannot stand by and allow this to continue. As the one-year anniversary of Ma’Khia’s death approaches, her family is resolute in their fight for justice on her behalf.”