In a recent interview with Face the Nation, Democratic Party congresswoman and former Orlando police chief Val Demings said the police officer who fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant likely acted as “as he was trained to do.”
The teenage girl lost her life after she was shot multiple times by Ohio cop Nicholas Reardon after officers responded to a disturbance call at a home in the Walnut Heights area on April 20, Face2Face Africa reported. Touching on the events leading to Bryant’s death, Demings – also a former patrol officer – explained that law enforcement officials on the street have to make split-second decisions in certain scenarios to prevent escalation.
“Everybody has the benefit of slowing the video down and seizing the perfect moment. The officer on the street does not have that ability. He or she has to make those split-second decisions and they’re tough,” the Florida Representative said on Sunday. “But the limited information that I know in viewing the video, it appears that the officer responded as he was trained to do with the main thought of preventing a tragedy and a loss of life of the person who was about to be assaulted.”
A snippet of Officer Reardon’s body-cam footage that was released in the aftermath of the incident shows Bryant and another girl involved in a physical altercation in front of the home shortly after he exits the police vehicle. After the officer orders them to break it up, Bryant is seen turning her attention to another girl and charging at her while holding what the police say is a knife, Insider reported. As Bryant attempts to attack her, the officer opens fire on her and she falls to the ground. An object that appears to be a knife is seen dropped on the ground as Bryant falls.
The fatal incident reportedly happened twenty minutes before a jury found former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of George Floyd. Following Chauvin’s conviction, calls for the expedition of the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act were reignited by some lawmakers. A stalemate between lawmakers with regards to the passage of the bill has been the debate about qualified immunity. The legal principle usually protects officers and their departments from facing civil lawsuits pertaining to police violence.
And though the federal police reform legislation is yet to be discussed in the Senate after the House gave it the green light this year, Demings told Face the Nation that lawmakers could soon strike an agreement.
“When we look historically throughout our history, even though there’s always been two strong political parties, they’ve always seem in most instances to be able to lay down their political differences and rise to meet that significant moment. This is such a time,” Demings said.
“And so I’m hoping that we will put politics aside and come together because we need to get this done. Our communities around the nation need it. Our good police officers need it, and quite frankly, the American people need it. We in Congress in both chambers can meet this moment as well if we have the political will to do so.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the 64-year-old also spoke about what she reiterates to officers anytime she interacts with them, saying: “The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers in this nation are good people who go to work every day to protect those, protect and serve our communities. I remind them of that. Always stand on the right side, speak up and be professional and do the job that you’re paid to do.”