The Death of Ma’khia Bryant: Racially or Logically Motivated?


Photo courtesy of The New York Post

 The year 2020 has brought changes to everyone in the world, some good, some bad. One of these most influential changes was the change COVID-19 made, but here in the United States, we experienced the growing popularity of many social movements. Some of these movements being ACAB (All Cops are Bastards) and the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movements who rose again after their deep sleep. These two movements were highly motivated by George Floyd’s death, an African American male who was asphyxiated by a white cop in May of 2020. Following the uprising of the BLM movement, the media has been watching police officers–especially Caucasian ones–like a hawk.

Ma’khia Bryant, a 16-year-old resident of Columbus, Ohio, was shot four times on April 20th by a white male cop. Right off the bat, because of actions made last year involving the George Floyd case, it was no surprise–to me, at least–that it was featured in our daily news. Although many of these cases involve a cop making a very racial decision, many claims that the death Ma’khia Bryant was racially motivated is simply incorrect, as it was nothing but a sad decision made in the blitz of a moment.

Bryant made a 911 call claiming that there are three people in her house threatening to hurt her and her grandmother. The cops come 13 minutes later after the call, and were greeted with about seven people arguing in the front of the house with a car parked halfway up the driveway.

Officer Val Demings was the first to come and try to handle the situation: “What’s going on? What’s going on?” Demings said. Everyone in the driveway was arguing as Officer Demings was coming up, until three new suspects came rushing out of the pack of people, one of them being Bryant and a male who was chasing a girl around the same age as Bryant. This unidentified male pushes the unidentified female down, and proceeds to kick her in the face. Meanwhile, officer Demings yells out in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, “Hey! Hey! Hey! Get down! Get down!” At this point, the scene is chaotic, with many different arguments and conflicts occuring at once.

Instantly, the situation elevates into something very dangerous. It comes to a point where it was no longer an argument–it was actual violence. The bodycam footage shows us how, at first, Bryant was two to three feet apart from a woman in pink, before she charged at her with the knife in her right hand.

Bryant raises her hand as the woman in pink backs up into the parked car, leaning back, as Bryant has the knife over the woman in pink. Officer Demings proceeds to shoot Bryant up to four times in her back, killing her.

Despite the controversy surrounding the innocence of Bryant, the scene is clear: Bryant was clearly endangering another woman, about to stab her in a spot that could potentially lead to death, and Officer Demings shot Bryant in the back four times to protect the women in pink.

Officer Demings had little to no time to react. In his situation, the scenario could have gone one of two ways: either Officer Demings could shoot Bryant in the back, killing her and saving the woman, or  Officer Demings could have allowed the situation to continue, which could have led to a death of an innocent by the hands of Bryant.

Some state that Officer Demings was in the right to shoot, but that he shot too many times, and alternatively a shot to the arm would have been better because it would have incapacitated Bryant without ending her life. It would have accomplished those ideas, but not only is there a massive amount of adrenaline running through Bryant’s body to allow her to continue with her strike, but, if Officer Demings was to miss, he would be shooting an innocent woman. Not only that, but shooting a moving target that is small is very difficult, especially when that moving target is close to an innocent person. 

Something also popularly stated by the media is that the person who is about to be struck is a grown woman, who can easily either stop the blow or endure it, but many fail to ask themselves: What if she couldn’t? Or, what if Bryant were to stab her fatally, ending her life? The possibilities are endless, but what happened is done, and we cannot change it with any ‘what if’s.’ 

The media demands to put Officer Demings in the same place as Derek Chauvin.

Is that fair to you?

In my opinion, it is not. The officer was doing nothing but protecting the people he saw in danger. Officer Demings did not have enough time to be able to calm down the situation, not because he did not have the proper training or experience, but because the crowd did not let him.

I do wish for a world where violence can be settled by other means, but at the same, I do not think it is fair for an officer to have his life ruined by the media because he was trying to protect someone. I believe that what happened is only being glorified because of the past BLM and ACAB movements, and the roles were reversed, no one would have ever heard the name of Ma’khia Bryant.