The Columbus, Ohio police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant has been identified as Nicholas Reardon.
Bryant was killed just as the nation got word of Derek Chauvin’s conviction for killing George Floyd last May. Around 4:40 p.m., a woman called 911 to report a disturbance on the southeast side of Columbus. Reardon was the first officer to respond, and it didn’t take him long to draw and fire his service weapon.
Bryant was killed. Reardon has been taken off street duty pending an investigation.
Reardon has been with the Columbus Division of Police since 2019, according to WLWT-5. The Daily Beast reports that he is a U.S. Air National Guardsman and received an expert marksman badge with an M4 Carbine. He also appears to be the son of retired Sergeant Edward “Ted” Reardon, a 32-year veteran of the Columbus Division of Police.
What is particularly troubling, as The Root explained previously, is that city officials already appear ready to justify the shooting. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said Reardon was protecting the other girl Bryant was fighting, but it is clear the girl he was supposedly trying to protect was also in his line of fire.
Reardon’s use of force is widely criticized as unnecessary because officers around the country regularly resist using force against armed white men and boys. Kyle Rittenhouse and Dylann Roof, who both shot and killed people in their rampages, were apprehended without using force. The January 6 insurrection attempt in which law enforcement declined to use force in many instances against the mostly white MAGA crowd raised questions over how officers selectively choose when to draw their weapons.
Bryant’s neighbors certainly felt that deadly force wasn’t necessary, according to The Daily Beast:
The teenager’s neighbors were also shocked by the shooting. Charles Williams, a 63-year-old neighbor, told The Daily Beast that when he arrived at the scene, officers were still standing around after Bryant’s body had been taken away.
“Neighbors had begun to gather and were chanting, ‘Black lives matter,’” Williams said. “The officers responded by chanting, ‘Blue lives matter.’”
Police have not yet commented on a video that emerged overnight showing a police officer shouting “blue lives matter” to a group of upset residents.
Williams, who is a staff minister at a local church, added that the video of Bryant’s shooting clearly shows that the officer failed to warn the teenager before firing. “This girl did not have to die,” he said. “The officer, after he shot her, they (other police officers) whisked him away.”
Another neighbor, 23-year-old Tammy Taylor, also believes that the officer could have used other means to restraint the teenager.
“His Taser was in a more reachable spot than his gun,” Taylor, who arrived at the scene shortly after the teenager was shot, told The Daily Beast. “He could have Tased her.”
Rosemary Ellison, a 66-year-old who lives in the area, believes Reardon should be criminally charged in Bryant’s death.
“The thing that’s concerning is that there were other officers here (before Reardon arrived). They didn’t see a threat. They didn’t use their authority and position to the extreme,” Ellison said.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.
Several hundred protesters took to the streets in downtown Columbus soon after Bryant’s shooting demanding accountability and chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Say her name. Ma’Khia Bryant.”
This girl did not have to die.
“As soon as (Reardon) got out of the car, he had the gun ready to shoot somebody,” Kiara Yakita, founder and president of the grass-roots group Black Liberation Movement Central Ohio, told The Washington Post. “Law enforcement and city officials are rushing to make excuses because she had a knife. Those excuses are not valid to me.”