The Columbus Police Shooting Shows Why Family Assertions About 'What Happened' Are Completely Useless

From bodycam footage of Columbus police shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant

Yesterday, a police officer in Columbus, OH shot and killed a teenage girl who was in the process of trying to stab (and possibly kill) another girl she was in a physical altercation with. Body-cam footage confirmed that account. Despite the reality shown on the video, there are still protests going on in the area for some reason.

As I wrote this morning, the hot takes surrounding that incident should seriously make any cop question whether it’s worth even continuing in their profession. Imagine if there were no body-cam footage of this situation? What would the predominant narrative be?

Well, we actually know the answer to that because family members of Ma’Khia Bryant chose to lie to the news media about what actually happened after the incident initially happened.

The above account was given by an aunt who claims to have been told those things by Ma’Khia Bryant’s grandmother and father. Everything that is said in the above excerpt is false. Not only was a verbal warning given, but officers gave it four times. Further, while they were aware she was armed, they did not shoot her until she raised the knife and was in the process of attempting to stab the girl she was fighting with.

In other words, this was a split-second decision in which police had tried to de-escalate the situation. The officer was faced with the choice to shoot or allow another, unarmed girl to possibly be murdered. There was no time to tackle the girl (and you don’t tackle someone swinging a knife anyway) nor to deploy a taser quickly enough and accurately enough at that range. If he had not shot, we would now have body-cam footage of an officer allowing a possibly deadly stabbing to take place without trying to intervene. Does anyone think that would have gone over well with Black Lives Matter?

What this shows is that assertions about “what happened” by family members should never be taken at face value. Emotions are high, and the natural reaction is to always defend a loved one. If you’ve ever taken a concealed carry class or studied the reliability of witness testimony in another setting, you know that a large percentage of memories regarding a deadly incident end up being completely false.

Despite that, in this case, the claims of the family went viral, protests formed, and influential people spread the falsehoods far and wide. We saw a similar thing happen after the Daunte Wright shooting when one of his family members claimed he was pulled over due to having an air freshener. In reality, he was stopped for an expired tag and the police were attempting to serve a warrant.

But again, if there wasn’t body-cam footage to confirm what happened in this incident, we would have another “hands up, don’t shoot” situation on our hands. The claim that the knife was dropped in the yard prior was completely untrue. Not only did she have the knife, but she was also warned to drop it, still choosing to try to murder another person with it. The officer who fired clearly had no other choice, in my view.

And just to address another claim being made, it is irrelevant who started the fight. The law requires any use of deadly force by a civilian to pass the reasonability test. Was Ma’Khia Bryant in danger of death when she tried to stab the other girl? The footage simply does not show that, therefore the police officer could not assume she was just defending herself and let the stabbing happen. Further, even the claim that it was Bryant who called the police and that she was not the instigator of the fight is, again, an unconfirmed accusation from a family member.

Facts are quickly becoming irrelevant, though. Everyone is now an expert on de-escalation and shooting knives out of people’s hands. Regardless, take this as another example of why “witness” testimony following an event should always be taken with a grain of salt.