COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — The death of a Columbus teenager shot and killed by police captured national headline and calls for several federal investigations.
It happened on April 20th when Columbus Police were called to a foster home on Legion Lane. Once arrived, Ma'Khia Bryant, 16, can be seen on police body camera with a knife in her hand and approaching another girl at the scene. Inches away with the knife up, officers opened fire and killed Bryant.
While Bryant’s family is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate, they also want the feds to look into Ohio’s foster care system citing policy and cultural issues.
The family said Ma’Khia moved to Legion Lane in February of this year. In March, her 15-year-old sister called 911 saying she had gotten into a fight and she didn’t want to live at the Legion Lane address anymore.
ABC 6/FOX 28 requested to look into Ma'Khia Bryant’s files within juvenile court where’s she’s the subject of nearly a dozen neglect and abuse cases.
The court released judgments on the cases with heavy redaction and they do not indicate what was alleged or specifics decided. The documents do indicate Bryant was made a ward of the state or determined to have inadequate parental care four times since she was a toddler. Gaps in the timeline exist as to when Ma'Khia was returned to her family.
In February 2019, the courts determined Ma’Khia Bryant was neglected in the most recent case. Her mother, Paula Bryant, “emphatically denied all allegations of abuse.”
One year later, Paula Bryant contacted ABC 6 On Your Side with an email asking for help with her son. She wrote, “COVID-19 is spreading at St. Vincent Behavior Residential Program in Columbus, Ohio. My son has been quarantined and is unable to come home.”
Through her attorney, Paula Bryant told reporters last week that the foster care system has been too aggressive, Ma’Khia had been away from her for too long and she needs to be united with all of her kids.
Franklin County Children Services said it has removed all foster kids from the home on Legion Lane since Ma’Khia’s death but has said little else. In fact, an FCCS social worker called 911 two days after Ma’Khia Bryant’s death with trying to collect the other children's belongings.
“I’m coming to pick up the belongings of the children that lived in this home but there are media people outside,” she told the dispatcher. “I don’t know if the police can come and be an escort.”