Ma'Khia Bryant should be remembered as a loving teenager, her mother says

Ma'Khia Bryant was shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer on April 20. By Mallika Kallingal, CNN

(CNN) -- Ma'Khia Bryant's mother doesn't want her daughter to be remembered by the incident that ended her life.

"I want the world to know that Ma'Khia Bryant was a very loving 16-year-old girl. She was my daughter, my baby. I loved her. She was very talented and smart. She was funny. Her favorite color was blue," Paula Bryant told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

Ma'Khia was shot and killed by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer on Tuesday.

Bryant said she was at the dentist when she got the call about what happened to Ma'Khia. "This is so unreal, the hurt that I feel, I'm devastated. I was shocked when I heard the news. It was unbelievable," Bryant said. "No parent should have to go through this."

Bryant said she still has not been able to bring herself to watch the police bodycam video through to the end. "I want to remember Ma'Khia, you know, the good things about Ma'Khia, the loving things about Ma'Khia," she said. "Ma'Khia I believe is in heaven. She's an angel."

She spoke about her belief in God, how she came to name her daughter and the fact that she's a single mother of four other children.

"I'm a single mother of five kids and, you know, now Ma'Khia is gone and I only have four kids, and I can't — that is so hard for me to say," Bryant said, fighting back tears.

Bryant said Ma'Khia would want the killing to stop.

"I've always had sympathy for the Breonna Taylor story and her family and her friends and her situation. And now I know what it feels like to lose a child," she said.

She added that her daughter was "peaceful," "loving" and "wanted everybody to get along."

A dispute over a messy home

Ma'Khia was in foster care at the home where the shooting took place.

According to Angela Moore, who cared for her, Bryant and two other girls were arguing over a messy home and an unmade bed shortly before a fight that ended in the police shooting.

Moore said two of her former foster children had come to her Columbus home Tuesday to celebrate her birthday when the young women and Ma'Khia bickered over housekeeping.

"It was over keeping the house clean," Moore said. "The older one told them to clean up the house because 'Mom doesn't like the house dirty,'" Moore recalled being told after she arrived home from work. "So that's how it all started."

When Moore made it home she was told that Ma'Khia had died after being shot four times. "I never in my worst nightmare would have thought it would ever come to this," Moore said.

"She was fine. She was fun," Moore said. "She liked to dance. She did chores around the house. It wasn't really long."

Officials in Columbus have released body camera video of Tuesday's shooting -- during which Ma'Khia lunges at another young woman with a knife outside the house -- and urged residents to await the facts in the investigation.

"We don't yet have all of the facts but we do know that a 16-year-old girl, a child of this community, tragically died last night," Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told reporters on Wednesday.

"Bottom line: Did Ma'Khia Bryant need to die yesterday?" he added. "How did we get here? This is a failure on the part of our community. Some are guilty but all of us are responsible."

Ginther said state investigators will determine "if the officer involved was wrong, and if he was we will hold him accountable."

Police identified the officer who fired the shots as Nicholas Reardon, who was hired in December 2019. The officer is off street duty pending an investigation.

'My heart broke,' public safety director says

Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. released a video statement Friday urging empathy and compassion in the wake of the shooting.

"I watched these videos and my heart broke," Pettus, who is Black, said of the body camera footage released by police. "Ma'khia Bryant could have been one of my grandchildren. To be frank, I had to struggle to compose myself to be able to speak during a press conference. ...

"We have to recognize that to our Black friends and neighbors, this is yet another grievous emotional wound, on top of so many that have preceded it- some local, some national," he said.

"Our Black community is emotionally exhausted. They live with a fear and a pain that many others don't. It's a burden they carry every day. And so we must understand that, we must listen to, and respond to, our friends and neighbors with compassion, empathy and understanding.

"They are grieving," he added. "I grieve with them."

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