Does it matter if Ma’Khia Bryant was the person who called 911 just before she was shot by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio?
I’ll say no.
She would have been shot anyway because of her behavior after the police arrived. And she still would have been shot multiple times because her extreme physical and verbal aggressiveness, and failure to stand down when ordered, could only be distinguished from a murder in progress by God.
The question of who called 911 arises only because some of those urging us to just let children fight with knives also strongly insist that Ma’Khia Bryant is that person.
Why? I suppose it’s an effort to reinforce Joy Reid’s trial balloon that “…what scared a 16-year-old girl enough that she felt that she had to grab a kitchen knife facing two adult women… No one’s asking what would’ve scared a kid who’s in a foster situation so much that she felt that she needed to defend herself or pick up a knife.” If she was scared she would have been better off staying that way.
If Ma’Khia is cast as a frightened child, defending herself from adults, and as a victim of her own good intent, it’s easier to blame the shooting on systemic racism than on her bad decisions. She had no choice, she isn’t well equipped to make choices anyway, and the system killed her even though she tried to do the right thing.
As noted yesterday, this is in line with stripping her of agency. As a black child she had little, and what little she mustered – calling 911 – resulted in her destruction. The system is murderously biased in its core.
But if Ma’Khia was afraid (indicated if she called 911) you’d expect she would be relieved to see a police officer 10 minutes later. Maybe even put him between herself and the people she feared? You might expect she’d have stood with a wall at her back saying, “Don’t come near me!,” rather than charging, knife in hand, at a smaller person shouting “I’m Going to Stab F**k Out of You, Bitch!”.
She didn’t welcome the police, and she acted the opposite of defensive. She not only wasn’t relieved to see the officer, but she practically ran him over in her urgency to attack “the girl in pink.”
There’s more that Joy Reid failed to consider. Perhaps because she felt her message was more important than mere facts.
The 911 caller says “This girl trying to stab us and our grandma.” It could be that Ma’Khia said that, but since she was a foster child her grandma likely didn’t live there. And who would “us” be?
There is a remote possibility of an “us.”
If you’ve seen the police body-cam video you know that a tall black man in a gray hoodie followed Ma’Khia down the driveway as she knocks a heavy set female in blue to the ground, swinging her right hand toward the woman. It’s not clear from the video if Ma’Khia is holding a knife at this point (though 5 seconds later it’s clearly in her hand).
The officer, who has just arrived, turns to his right – toward the ensuing melee taking place no more than 3 feet away.
The cop draws his gun, shouting “Get down! Get down!”. Because by now he’s seen the knife in Ma’Khia’s right hand? Everybody should be digging a foxhole at this point.
Ma’Khia jumps up and charges a girl in a pink tracksuit. Simultaneously, the man in the gray hoodie kicks the woman on the ground twice. He makes no attempt to deter Ma’Khia. He is Ma’Khia’s ally. He kicks women lying on the ground. In front of a cop.
The cop turns to his left to track Ma’Khia – she has the knife – and shouts again. Ma’Khia pins the girl in pink against a car while bringing her arm into a striking position. The cop fires 4 rounds, fatally wounding Ma’Khia.
The man in the grey hoodie cries, “You shot my baby!”. The man in the gray hoodie is Ma’Khia’s father.
He’s had a warrant out for his arrest since January, and has been arrested numerous times, including for non-support and domestic violence. He’s entitled to benefit of the doubt, but non-support and domestic violence are directly relevant here. His daughter is in foster care and he kicks supine women.
He also doesn’t live at that house. So, how did he come to be involved? Probably because Ma’Khia called him as reinforcement. If she knew he had an outstanding warrant, Ma’Khia might well have been hesitant to call 911. In any case, he knew, and he came to the scene prepared to commit assault – in front of a cop – anyway. I haven’t heard Joy Reid wondering if that was the first time he set such an example for his daughter.
None of this proves Ma’Khia was not the 911 caller, but that has nothing to do with why she died. The only reason it matters is to bolster BLM donations: She was a frightened child, and a victim of systemic racism. We will probably eventually find out who made the call, but the urgent need to embellish the neo-racist narrative supersedes the need for fact.