Activists Want Federal Probe Of Columbus Police After Ma’Khia Bryant Death

Activists in Columbus, Ohio are calling for a federal investigation of the police department there after the killing of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant on Tuesday (April 20). 

The US Justice Department announced Wednesday (April 21) it would be launching an investigation of the Minneapolis, Minnesota Police Department following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. 

A recent report by the Ohio Alliance Innovation in Population Health found that Franklin County, the county seat of Columbus, is one of the deadliest in the nation for police shootings. 

“I have an 18-year-old who happens to be at college now and I tell him, unfortunately, never called the cops for anything, because you call the cops and things can unfortunately end up like this,” Ira Graham III, a Columbus resident told NPR during a protest after Ma’Khia’s killing. 

The outlet reported that findings from the group Mapping Police Violence show that Columbus police have killed more Black people in recent years than police in cities like Los Angeles or Philadelphia.

The DOJ conducted an investigation of the Columbus Police Department in 1998 and found a host of issues including excessive force, false charges, and false arrests. The calls for change in Columbus were renewed after protests began following the murder of George Floyd last May. 

Columbus City Council Preside Shannon Hardin told NPR that those protests have already brought about change. 

“There really has been a lot of change and a lot of reform. We’ve done more in the last year in terms of police policy than we’ve done in 30 years, combined,” Hardin told the outlet. 

No-knock warrants have been banned in Columbus and the city created a database to monitor if officers are involved with hate groups. Columbus has also piloted a program where mental health professionals are sent in place of police to de-escalate situations. 

But some advocates like Jasmine Ayres are still pushing for a federal investigation. “We want the Department of Justice to investigate the Columbus police department,” Ayres told the outlet. “It’s clear that after a decade of disproportionately killed Black and brown people, that they’re not going to fix it.” The community advocates want the city to make the call to invite federal investigators to Columbus. 

“We need [the city] to make that phone call,” Ayres said. 

Photo: Getty Images

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