US police release footage showing fatal shooting of pregnant Black woman

Ta’Kiya Young and her unborn child were killed by police in Ohio in incident family says could have been avoided.

Ta'kiya young
A still image from body camera footage released by the Blendon Township police shows an officer pointing his gun at Ta’Kiya Young moments before shooting her outside a grocery store in the US state of Ohio [Blendon Township police via AP Photo]

Police in the US state of Ohio have released body camera footage of a fatal shooting of pregnant Black woman Ta’Kiya Young, which sparked public anger and renewed calls for an end to deadly police violence in the United States.

The footage released on Friday showed the 21-year-old’s killing in a grocery store parking lot in Blendon Township, a suburb of the Ohio state capital, Columbus, on August 24. Authorities said Young’s unborn child did not survive the shooting.

Blendon Township Police Chief John Belford has characterised the incident as a “tragedy” that occurred when police tried to stop Young after she was accused of shoplifting.

But Young’s family has called the killing “avoidable”, a “gross misuse of power and authority” and a “hateful act”, according to local media reports.

“This incident goes beyond the obvious policy violations that occurred,” the family said in a statement, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch newspaper. “After seeing the video footage of her death, this is clearly a criminal act.”

The US has seen mass protests in recent years against deadly police violence, including the 2020 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Advocates have continued to demand accountability and an end to anti-Black racism.

‘Are you going to shoot me?’

In the body camera footage released on Friday, an employee is heard telling a police officer in the parking lot of a Kroger’s grocery store that Young had shoplifted.

The officer, who was helping another person in the parking lot at the time, approached the driver’s seat of Young’s parked car and tells her to get out.

“For what?” she asks before denying she took anything. “Are you going to shoot me?”

The car then accelerates forward, and a second officer who was standing in front of the car fires a single shot as the vehicle makes contact with him as he jumps to the side.

The body camera footage then shows the car slow down but continue to move forward into a wall as the officers run beside it. They then break the car’s window to gain access.

In a statement on Friday, Belford said the officers tried to provide first aid before paramedics arrived. Young was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Her family has said her unborn daughter was due in November. Young also had two other children, according to the family.

Calls for action

Police have not released the identities of the two officers, citing an Ohio law that protects the identities of crime victims.

Police have argued that both officers involved in the fatal incident fall under this category.

They said one officer had his arm inside of Young’s window when the car accelerated, which constitutes assault. The other officer, they said, was the victim of attempted criminal assault.

Speaking to local media on Friday, the lawyer representing Young’s family, Chanda Brown, said she did not see any “justification” for the officers to use deadly force.

“I saw a young woman get killed,” Brown said, referring to the footage that was released.

“In that video, I didn’t see any exoneration for the police officer.”

Ramon Obey, lead organiser with the People’s Justice Project civil rights and advocacy group, said the incident showed “property was deemed more valuable than Black life.”

“Black women deserve more, this fatal encounter with the police can not be minimized,” Obey said in a statement on Friday, calling for justice for Young and her unborn child.

A community rally also will be held in Columbus on the weekend.

Source: Al Jazeera