Ma'Khia Bryant's Death Highlights Racial Disparities In Policing Shootings

Children carry a sign at a Black Lives Matter protest as it makes it’s way through downtown in response to the police shooting of MaKhia Bryant on April 21, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. The 16-year-old Black girl was shot and killed by police who had been called to the scene of a disturbance. (Photo by Stephen Zenner/Getty Images)
Children carry a sign at a Black Lives Matter protest as it makes it’s way through downtown in response to the police shooting of MaKhia Bryant on April 21, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. The 16-year-old Black girl was shot and killed by police who had been called to the scene of a disturbance. (Photo by Stephen Zenner/Getty Images)
Photo: Stephen Zenner (Getty Images)

Ma’Khia Bryant’s killing at the hands of the Columbus Division of Police has highlighted the troubling pattern of cops taking children’s lives. Nicholas Reardon, the cop who killed Bryant, shot the 16-year-old girl moments after arriving on the scene.

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She really didn’t have a chance. Reardon’s actions, unfortunately, are not a rarity.

Bryant was the fifth child killed by the Columbus Division of Police since 2016. Columbus police are tied with the New York Police Department in the number of child deaths since 2013, according to Insider. Only the Chicago Police Department has killed more kids since 2013, 12 total, including 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

All of the kids killed in Columbus were Black.

Around 29 percent of the city’s residents are Black, but Black residents make up more than 70 percent of people killed by cops. A lion’s share of the data tracking all of this comes from Mapping Police Violence, which pulls its information from three of the largest databases that track police killings.

A week before Bryant was killed, The Washington Post, which does its own tracking of police killings, reported on the rate at which cops kill children after Toledo was shot. One of the observations the author noted was how cops tend to see Black kids as older than they actually are. Another point that stands out from The Post article is that only a quarter of kids killed by cops under the age of 16 were white.

A 2020 study found that Black kids are six times as likely to be killed by police officers than white kids over a 16-year period. Latinx kids are three times as likely to fall victim to police officers.

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“The results are not surprising, but that doesn’t take away from the tragedy of these results,” lead researcher Dr. Monika K. Goyal told CNN. “When we see that this extends to children, it makes this issue even more tragic.”

Here are some more highlights from that study, per CNN:

Goyal and her team found that 140 adolescents died from police intervention from 2003 to 2018, and of those cases, 131 involved firearms, the study states. The vast majority of the victims — roughly 93% — were male, with an average age of 16 years.

“Although these numbers are small, Dr. Goyal notes that there’s a potential rippling effect, with the death of each child having wide-ranging impact on an entire community,” according to a news release from Children’s National, where Goyal is associate division chief of Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services and director of Academic Affairs and Research.

“These findings are likely an underestimate of the true toll,” Goyal told CNN. “This (rate) did not include children who were shot but didn’t die.”

“We had a sufficient enough sample size to show that there were large differences, when we compared deaths of children due to police shootings between Black and White children and White to Hispanic children — we were appropriately powered,” she added. “We would have seen those same results over a larger time period.”

During this same period, 6,512 adults were fatally shot by police, and Black and Hispanic adults had the highest mortality rates compared with White adults, according to Children’s National.

Media and elected officials are marking Ma’Khia’s death as a tragedy, as if the shooting could not have been avoided but that really isn’t true. Plenty of white kids menace cops with violence all the time. A basic search on Google or YouTube will show you plenty of examples.

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This really comes down to people not caring about the innocence of Black and Brown children.

DISCUSSION

By
Bill

I have serious problems with how quickly cops are to shoot the people walking and driving the streets of the US, particularly when they are PoC. But I am sorry, this is not a hill I will fight on.

This is what the cop saw just before he fired his gun. What he knew was Bryant was about to stick a knife into another human being — and part of his job is to not let that happen.

Could he have done something different? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. You weren’t there. None of us were. There are a lot of Monday Morning Quarterbacks here talking about what else he could have done. Bravo. Hindsight is notorious for being 20/20.

What you all seem to forget is that the cop’s primary job at that instant was to stop Bryant from harming the girl in pink. And he succeeded in that.

If you want to talk about the problems of police killing people, there were at least 4 other killings this week that were definitely in the realm of questionable based on the fact the police are not giving out information, 2 were of PoC that were not covered here.

This is a topic that has merit, and needs more coverage. But pick your battles wisely. Saying that the police were wrong to shoot someone who was trying to knife someone else will get you no sympathy from anyone who bothers to think about these kinds of issues.

Instead try talking about the man who was shot 10 times for holding a cell phone and looking for a ride to his disabled car. Something almost anyone can understand and a position they can see themselves in.