Special prosecutors Tim Merkle and Gary Shroyer announced the grand jury’s decision in a statement:
“Under Ohio law, the use of deadly force by a police officer is justified when there exists an immediate or imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another,” the statement read. Their decision was the result of a full review of the shooting.
As EBONY previously reported, Ma’khia Bryant was shot four times by police officer Nicholas Reardon after reportedly swinging a knife at a young woman and pinning her to the ground. The officer was responding to a 911 call made from Bryant’s foster home about a group of girls threatening to stab members of the household.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther requested the Justice Department to review the police department for possible “deficiencies and racial disparities,” a week after the fatal encounter. The city is now tasked with conducting an internal review to determine whether Reardon’s actions followed department protocol as well.
In a statement, Bryant’s family expressed their disappointment that Reardon was cleared of all criminal charges. “There should have been other non-deadly options available to deal with this situation.” Her family also called for “full-scale changes” to Ohio’s foster-care system which would prevent similar fatal incidents. “Ohio’s foster care system is failing our children and we cannot stand by and allow this to continue,” the statement continued. “As the one-year anniversary of Ma’Khia’s death approaches, her family is resolute in their fight for justice on her behalf.”