COLUMBUS, Ohio — A grand jury has declined to bring charges against the Columbus police officer who fatally shot 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant last year.
According to the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office and the Fraternal Order of Police, the grand jury issued a "no bill", meaning they did not find probable cause that a crime was committed.
Officer Nicholas Reardon fatally shot Bryant while responding to a domestic dispute call in April 2021 on Legion Lane.
Reardon's body camera video showed him asking what was going on as Bryant lunged at another woman with a knife seconds later. Reardon fired his weapon four times.
Bryant was taken to Mount Carmel East Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
An autopsy report for Bryant showed she sustained multiple gunshot wounds - one in the back, one in the lower torso, one in the right shoulder and another in her right thigh.
The report said her death was caused by the injuries to her torso and ruled her death a homicide. A homicide, by definition, means the person's death was caused by someone else.
Following the shooting, then Interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods explained an officer can use deadly force when the person appears to be inflicting harm on another person.
Michelle Martin, the attorney for Bryant's family, released a statement about the grand jury's decision:
"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.
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."
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther also sent a statement:
“I am grateful for the grand jury for their work and to BCI for their investigation. The next step is an administrative investigation by CPD, and Franklin County continues to look into Ma’Khia Byant’s care in the foster system. In the end, none of that brings Ma’Khia back, and we must continue to lift up her family in our prayers.”
The Department of Public Safety released a statement on Twitter after the grand jury's decision saying the next step in the process is an administrative investigation to determine whether Reardon's actions were within the division's policy.
Bryant's death came just 30 minutes before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
After Bryant's death, Mayor Ginther invited the Justice Department to review the police department for possible “deficiencies and racial disparities.” In September, the department agreed to conduct a review.
Her death also cast a light on the state’s foster care system, with an attorney representing the teen’s family calling for an investigation of the system and whether girls in the foster home were properly supervised.