What We Know About the Columbus Cop Who Killed Ma’Khia Bryant

Nicholas Reardon has been taken off street duty pending investigation, which is being handled by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 
April 22, 2021, 4:30pm
(TIKTOK/MA'KHIA BRYANT​)
(TIKTOK/MA'KHIA BRYANT)

Columbus police released the name of the officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant as well as more body camera footage and audio from 911 calls on Wednesday, as the investigation into the shooting continues. 

“I wish to hell it hadn’t happened,” Columbus interim chief of police Michael Woods said at a Wednesday press conference

Bryant was shot and killed by Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon, who arrived while Bryant was involved in a fight. Body camera footage shown at the press conference appears to show Bryant holding a knife while fighting with another girl up against a car, as Reardon says “get down” four times before firing at Bryant. After the shooting, Reardon is heard telling onlookers that “she came at her with a knife.” Four shots are heard in the body camera footage.

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Reardon was hired by the Columbus Division of Police in December 2019, Woods said Wednesday. He has been taken off street duty pending investigation, which is being handled by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 

Reardon is a 2016 graduate of Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus and was a member of the wrestling team, which posted in 2017 that Reardon had earned an expert marksman badge in the Air National Guard. 

Reardon’s father also appears to be former Columbus police Sgt. Edward Reardon, a former basic training sergeant at the Columbus Police Academy and office with the Ohio State campus police. He retired from law enforcement in May 2020. The Daily Beast first reported Reardon’s family and military connections.  

At the press conference, Columbus police also played audio from 911 calls from the incident. During one call, placed at 4:32, there’s shouting heard, and the caller—whose identity is unknown—says there are “girls over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us and put their hands on our grandma.” 

A second call placed nearly 15 minutes later ends shortly after the dispatcher answers, as the cops had already arrived at that point. 

Police also showed body camera footage from Serge Akpalo and Eric Channel, two officers who were on the scene along with Reardon. Both were hired in June 2014.

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Warning: the below video contains graphic footage of the shooting of Bryant and its aftermath. 

Akpalo’s body camera shows him gathering witnesses, including one who says Bryant came at her with a knife, as other residents nearby grow angry at the shooting. Channel’s footage shows himself and another officer first struggling to find out where Bryant has been hit, and then giving her medical attention and CPR. 

“Stay with us, Ma’Khia,” an officer is heard saying to Bryant. Bryant was later taken to a hospital, where she died.

On Wednesday, more than 200 demonstrators gathered for a second straight night in downtown Columbus for a vigil and protest, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The protest broke up around 11:30 p.m. local time, WBNS reported. 

“There will never truly be any justice for these families because their ones will never come home,” Columbus organizer Hana Abdur Rahim said during the vigil, according to the Dispatch. “The system is not broken. There's no cracks in the system. The system was designed for white supremacy. The system was designed perfectly. We need to design a new one.”

Bryant’s friends also spoke during the vigil. “Ma'Khia taught us how to be confident, how to love our bodies," 16-year-old Aaliyaha Tucker said, according to the Dispatch. "She wanted to become big on her own."

Other state and federal politicians reacted to the shooting, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican. "I think we need to let this investigation play out," DeWine said Wednesday. "That’s what Mayor [Andrew] Ginther has said. I think, as governor, that’s what I would request — we need to let the investigation play out."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Wednesday that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the shooting, and the White House’s focus is “on working to address systemic racism and implicit bias head on” and “passing laws and legislation that will put much-needed reforms into place at police departments around the country.”

“She was a child,” Psaki said.