COLUMBUS, Ohio — EDITOR'S NOTE: We strongly feel this content is best consumed by watching the video above, and therefore we encourage you to do that.
Three days after four shots ended the life of Ma’Khia Bryant, members of the Columbus community are giving input on whether Officer Nicholas Reardon could have de-escalated the situation before using deadly force.
Some have raised those opinions through demonstrations, marching and chanting. Others have voiced opinions through their keyboards. Thousands of comments have flooded 10TV’s social media pages. Many of them are in support of police believing the shooting of Bryant, based on the video, was justified.
“From what I saw and from what I know the police's job is, it certainly looked like [Officer Nicholas Reardon] had no other option,” one man said.
The man did not want his face or name used, but wanted his opinion heard.
He says he had to watch the body cam video twice in real-time, then once in slow motion, to be able to come to his conclusion.
“The fact that he was able to make that decision based on what he saw and his training so quickly that it possibly saved the lives of other people…it was pretty unreal,” he said.
It’s why he says Officer Reardon, as awful as this situation absolutely is, should be honored. He says Reardon helped to preserve life, which is what police take an oath to do.
Others, though, don’t see it that way.
Many people, even after watching the video, believe shooting Ma’Khia Bryant was uncalled for and that Officer Reardon should have de-escalated the situation or used his taser.
“Why are we still calling them?” Ayaba El said. “If we can’t trust the police to begin with, why are our children still calling for them?”
El says the whole system failed from those who watched this fight happen, to parents not intervening, to Officer Reardon pulling his weapon.
“I actually have worked in security, as a security guard,” El said. “You are taught how to disarm. How are the police not taught this?”
Police have said if there’s a possibility of loss of life to another person deadly force is acceptable. And, in that situation, some people are grateful Reardon didn’t gamble with a missed taser prong or a stray bullet.
“Anyone who says [shooting at a person’s limbs] doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” the man said. “Those are very unrealistic things.”
“I understand training, but one bullet versus four bullets?” Stephanie Hightower said.
Hightower is with the Columbus Urban League. She says it goes further than one shooting.
“I think this community is back to dealing with the bloodline of trauma that we as Black people have had for a very long time,” she said.
The man who supports Officer Reardon says people are too quick to lump in every police shooting as one when it involves the African American community. He says each case is very different with very unique circumstances.
“I know a lot of people and I’ve heard from a lot of people that say [Reardon] should be fired [and] he should go to jail, and then I ask them ‘Have you seen the video?’ They say ‘No, but it doesn’t matter’,” he said.
He says he knows it’s easy for people of color to fear and worry, thinking they could be the next headline. It’s why he says focus is needed on every front to help make things better.
Right now, though, many people have just one focus: The loss of a young life.
“This was a tragedy,” Hightower said. “And there was a child that was involved in the tragedy. And, so, from a system and from a community, how do we not continue to fail our children? That is what the focus should be on.”
Focus to try, collectively as one, to ensure that another Ma’Khia Bryant will never happen again.
“Everybody has to be held accountable for this,” El said. “There’s no reason for that child to not be here right now.”
And that is one fact everyone agrees with.
“None of this is good, it’s all very unfortunate,” the man said. “Extremely sad. I have a young son and this poor girl was only 16. It is extremely sad.”
As the Bureau of Criminal Investigation continues its investigation, and no doubt even after it’s complete, opinions will still spark both heated and healthy conversations.
Just remember, no matter which viewpoint you see, there’s always another side.