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Police shoot and kill 16-Year-Old Ma’Khia Bryant

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16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot four times and killed by Columbus, Ohio police, Tuesday afternoon, moments before the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was read.

What We Know:

  • The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating a fatal police shooting in South Columbus. Family members have identified 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant as the victim.  Police were called to the 3000 block of Legion Lane just before 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday on a report of an attempted stabbing.  Early, unconfirmed reports allege that Ma’Khia called the police to the scene.
  • The girl who was killed was identified as Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, by a spokeswoman for Franklin County Children’s Services, who said in an email on Tuesday night that Ma’Khia had been in foster care..  Bryant was taken to Mt. Carmel East in critical condition but was pronounced dead just before 5:30 p.m.
  • Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said body-worn camera footage will be reviewed as soon as possible. Ginther is asking residents to remain calm and to allow BCI to investigate.  Ginther who called Bryant a “young woman” is under fire for mischaracterizing her, a common practice used to criminalize Black victims after a police crime. Citizens are outraged.

 

  • This shooting happened moments before the verdict was announced in the Derek Chauvin trial.  Chauvin was found guilty of the death of George Floyd last May.  Floyd’s death sparked protests around the world, including in Columbus.
  • Columbus Police Department released an edited version of the body camera video worn by the officer who shot Bryant. Police have not yet made public the name of that officer.  Footage showed the teenager lunging at two other females with a knife as the officer arrived at the driveway of a residence. Within seconds, the officer fired several times — four shots could be heard in the video — at the girl. She collapsed to the ground next to a car that had been parked in the driveway, body camera footage showed a knife on the ground.
  • WARNING: Video contains strong language. A woman near Legion Lane in South Columbus says her niece was killed earlier tonight after an officer involved shooting. Police still haven’t confirmed the victim. https://t.co/kBtSPxc6Xh pic.twitter.com/eTpmyWsoZK

— WSYX ABC 6 (@wsyx6) April 20, 2021

  • Bodycam footage was released by the city of Columbus. This footage is very graphic. Viewer discretion is advised.

 

This is a developing story.  It will be updated with information as available.

Last Update: 06:28:00 ET 4/21/2021

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black News Alerts and the host of Unmuted Nation on BossFM. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Crime

New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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Crime

R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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