Family members have identified the teenager as 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant
girl shot by police
Credit: NBC4 Columbus

A Black teenage girl died Tuesday when she was shot by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer after her family says she called the department for help.

The young girl has been identified by her mother as Ma'Khia Bryant, 16.

Her family says she called the police around 4:30 p.m. with a report that someone was trying to stab her, 10TV reported.

Police responded to the 3100 block of Legion Lane at 4:45 p.m. when an officer allegedly shot the teen four times, according to 10TV. She was then transported to Mount Carmel East Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m., police told The Columbus Dispatch

In a press conference Tuesday night, Columbus interim Chief of Police Michael Woods addressed reporters and confirmed the call to police made around 4:30 p.m. but do not identify who made the call.

Woods said, "The information was there a caller said females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them, dispatchers tried to obtain information about weapons but were unable to gather that information. Officers were dispatched at 4:36 [p.m.] and arrived at 4:44 [p.m.]."

Woods then played a brief video that showed the altercation that led to Bryant being fatally shot.

"What the video shows is the female with a knife attempting to stab the first female that lands on the ground," Woods said. "And then the second female that is pushed against the vehicle."

Later on in the press conference, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther addressed reporters, saying, "The city of Columbus lost a 15-year-old girl. We know based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community. ... I ask for everyone to pray for peace."

Police and Ginther reported Ma'Khia's age as 15, although her mother said she is 16.

The Columbus Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request to comment.

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Ma'Khia's aunt, Hazel Bryant, told The Dispatch her niece had been fighting with someone else at a foster home when she called dispatch. The victim's aunt also maintained that her niece dropped the knife she used in defense from her attacker prior to the police officer shooting her.

"She was a good kid. She was loving," Hazel, who said the child was her niece, told reporters at the scene, according to The Daily Beast. "She didn't deserve to die like a dog in the street."

The victim's mother Paula told 10TV the teen was "a very loving, peaceful little girl" and was an "honor-roll student" who "promoted peace."

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting and will review the body-camera footage from the officer. 

Shortly after the shooting Mayor Ginther released a statement on Tuesday, writing, "This afternoon a young woman tragically lost her life. We do not know all of the details. There is body-worn camera footage of the incident. We are working to review it as soon as possible."

Ginther added, "BCI is on the scene conducting an independent investigation as they do with all CPD-involved shootings. We will share information that we can as soon as it becomes available. I'm asking for residents to remain calm and allow BCI to gather the facts."

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request to comment.

Explaining the decision to release the video of the incident as quickly as possible, the interim police chief said they "took unprecedented steps" to provide answers quickly to the community.

"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," Woods said. "We know we can't provide every answer, but it's important that we can answer some questions tonight. And we wanted to get that out as soon as possible."

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The young teen was declared dead in the officer-involved shooting just minutes before Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict for the murder of George Floyd promoting outrage online and in her community.

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of all three charges — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — that he faced in Floyd's fatal arrest last May.

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President Joe Biden addressed police-involved killings earlier in the day following the verdict in Chauvin's case.

"It was a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off the whole world to see," Biden said in a press conference following the verdict, going on to call systemic racism "a stain on our nation's soul."

In remarks before Biden spoke, Vice President Kamala Harris urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has already passed in the House of Representatives.

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