Police in the US city of Columbus, Ohio, have shot and killed a Black teenager after confronting her while responding to a report on an attempted stabbing, according to authorities and the young woman’s family.
The shooting on Tuesday came as a jury in Minneapolis announced a guilty verdict in the trial of a former police officer charged with killing George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by kneeling on his neck during an arrest last year.
At a news conference in Columbus, police released body-camera footage of the latest shooting and the city’s interim police chief, Michael Woods, said officers involved in the incident were answering an emergency call from someone who reported an attempted stabbing.
Police arriving at the home encountered a chaotic scene of several people on the front lawn of a house where the girl, seen brandishing what appeared to be a knife, was charging towards another person who fell backwards, the video showed.
A police officer then opened fire on the girl as she collapsed against a car parked in the driveway. The video then shows what appears to be a kitchen knife lying on the pavement near the teenager.
The girl was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said. It was not clear whether anyone else was injured.
Authorities said the girl who was fatally shot was 15 years old. But family members have identified her as Makiyah Bryant, aged 16.
Woods said investigators will determine whether the killing complies with state law, which says “deadly force can be used to protect yourself or the protection of a third person”. The chief did not identify the officer who shot her but said he “would be taken off the street” pending the inquiry.
Ned Pettus Jr, the city’s public safety director, appealed for calm while the investigation proceeds and facts are uncovered in what he called “a devastating” loss of life.
“Fast, quick answers cannot come at the cost of accurate answers,” Pettus told reporters, appearing alongside Woods and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation “will conduct a fully independent investigation, which will be made public,” Pettus said. “If an officer has violated policy or the law, if they have, they will be held accountable.”
The mayor said it appeared from an initial review of the footage that the officer who opened fire “took action to protect another young girl in our community”.
“But another young girl will still not be coming home tonight,” Ginther said, adding, “I ask everyone to pray for peace. Tonight, we pray for this family, we pray for this city, and we pray for our neighbours.”
The killing set off protests in Columbus, with crowds gathering at the scene of the shooting as well as at the city’s police headquarters.
Hundreds of protesters pushed past police barriers outside the headquarters and approached officers as city officials were showing the body-camera video inside. Many chanted; “Say her name!”, while others highlighted the victim’s age by yelling: “she was just a kid”.
Officers with bicycles pushed protesters back and threatened to use pepper spray on the crowd.
Kimberly Shepherd, 50, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 17 years, said she knew the victim.
“The neighbourhood has definitely went through its change, but nothing like this,” Shepherd said of the shooting. “But this is the worst thing that has ever happened out here and unfortunately it is at the hands of police.”
Shepherd and her neighbour Jayme Jones, 51, had celebrated the guilty verdict of the former Minneapolis officer, Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Floyd.
But things changed quickly, Shepherd said.
“We were happy about the verdict. But you couldn’t even enjoy that,” Shepherd said. “Because as you’re getting one phone call that he was guilty, I’m getting the next phone call that this is happening in my neighbourhood.”