Police officer saves life and the power of narrative

Columbus, Ohio is my hometown. It’s a city that I love. On the same day that a verdict was reached in the Derek Chauvin trial, a teenage girl was fatally shot by a Columbus Police Officer.

It’s a tragedy anytime a young person loses his or her life.

I’ve seen a mix of comments on this shooting.

I see some comments from people who want to act like this is all just another piece of evidence for the narrative of systematic racism and oppression that is part of the system and which is rampant in society and in law enforcement.

I’ve also seen comments from people who believe that the officer was justified in shooting Ma’Khia Bryant and that this does not fit a narrative of systematic racism.

My belief is that cases need to all be looked at individually.

In the Bryant shooting, Columbus police were quick to release body cam footage. It’s a chaotic scene when the first officer arrives. You see a girl in pink and the officer says “Hey. What’s going on? What’s going on?”

You see two girls fall into view fighting. The officer tells them to get down and draws his pistol. One of the girls is still on the ground and a man runs up and kicks her in the head. Bryant charges at the girl in pink pushes her against the hood of a car with a knife drawn.

The cop fires four shots. Bryant died from her injuries.

I believe cases need to be looked at independently and that this situation does not fit the popular media narrative of systematic racism.

I hear arguments about her age “she was just a kid,” or “she was just sixteen.” But she was also about to stab someone. I’ve heard arguments of “she was the one who had called the police for protection.” That point is one I’ve yet to see confirmed. And if that is true, she’s still the one who’s charging at someone with a knife about to cause bodily injury to someone after police have arrived on the scene. She might have been the one who called the police, but once the police are there, that does not justify any means necessary.

Were the other girls armed? I’m sure an investigation will look into that. I can admit that I don’t know. But I do know Bryant was, and that she was in a position of power over the girl in pink.

I’ve seen many people make the ludicrous comment of “if she had been white, they wouldn’t’ have shot her.” They absolutely would have. Police don’t sit back and let people stab other people. And part of this goes to the narratives. The media and popular culture want to put forward one narrative. Police are systematically racist and bad.

Consider some of the headlines on this story.


Family: 15-year-old girl shot, killed by police in Columbus, Ohio

Ma’Khia Bryant Shooting: 16-Year-Old Killed By Cops After Reportedly Calling For Help

Black Teenager Makhia Bryant Shot Dead by US Police in Ohio, Less Than an Hour Before Derek Chauvin’s Conviction

I haven’t seen any headlines that talk about police saving a life.

I return to the argument of “they wouldn’t have shot a white girl.” It’s a fact that more white people are killed by police than African Americans. And I bring that up because the media is the one who fuels the narrative. And since systematic racism is the narrative, that’s what the media reports and that’s when the media reports it on the national level.

I also hear talk about whether or not the officer was justified in using lethal force. I hear people argue “why not use a taser?” Tasers aren’t foolproof. It was also a split second decision where the officer saw someone who was about to get stabbed.

I hear “why do police have to shoot to kill? Why can’t they shoot you in the leg?” Because it’s an insane expectation that an officer shoot once, wait to see if there’s a threat, maybe fire a second shot, wait around and see if the person is still a threat. A person can be shot and still stab someone. A person with a gun can be shot and still shoot someone.

I even heard someone (and I hope they’re reading this, because I believe I raise legitimate points), that the officer should have first de-escalated the situation. There wasn’t time. Less than 15 seconds after the officer is out of his car, Bryant is about to stab someone.

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