Police kill 2 Black people within hours of Chauvin conviction. ‘More to do,’ activists say

Bailey Aldridge
·4 min read

Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday afternoon when Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd.

“Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family,” said Ben Crump, the family’s attorney. “This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!”

But within hours, law enforcement officers shot and killed two Black people — in Columbus, Ohio, and Elizabeth City, North Carolina — setting off protests and also a reminder that change may not come quickly.

The NAACP in Columbus, where an officer fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant on Tuesday afternoon, around the time the jury in the Chauvin case reportedly reached a verdict, said “we have more to do.”

“As the world watched the trial of Derek Chauvin, Black people in America are still being killed by police,” the group said.

The next morning, at about 8:30, a sheriff’s deputy in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, shot and killed 42-year-old Andrew Brown Jr.

In Columbus, police said officers responded to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing. Footage from an officer’s body-worn camera shows Bryant was armed with a knife when she lunged at someone before being shot.

“No matter what the circumstances, that family is in agony and they are in my prayers,” Ned Pettus Jr., the public safety director for the city of Columbus, said during a news conference, The New York Times reported. “They deserve answers. Our city deserves answers. I want answers, but fast, quick answers cannot come at the cost of accurate answers.”

Philip Stinson, a professor at Bowling Green State University and an expert on law enforcement shootings, told The Columbus Dispatch his “first impression is that the officer was legally justified in using deadly force.”

“It’s a terribly tragic situation, and my heart goes out to the girl and her family and friends,” he said. “But from looking at the video, it appears to me that a reasonable police officer would have had a reasonable apprehension of an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death being imposed against an officer or someone else. That’s the legal standard.”

People gathered in Columbus on Wednesday for the second night in a row to hold a vigil and to protest the death of of Bryant, WBNS reported. They chanted, “Black Lives Matter” and “say her name.”

Officials have not released body-worn camera footage in the Brown case, in which deputies were attempting to execute a search warrant.

A neighbor and friend told The News & Observer that Brown was driving away from deputies before more than a dozen shots were fired at the vehicle.

“The police didn’t have to shoot my baby,” Martha McCullen, Brown’s aunt who said she raised him after his parents died, told the Associated Press. “Andrew Brown was a good person. He was about to get his kids back. He was a good father. Now his kids won’t never see him again.”

Howard J. Hunter III, who represents the district that includes Pasquotank County in the N.C. House of Representatives, said Wednesday that “we are yet again witnessing another officer-involved shooting resulting in the lost of life of another African-American male.”

He called on government leaders, from the federal to local level, to immediately “address issues of over-policing and racial profiling; police use of excessive force; racial disparities in criminal arrests and convictions and sentencing.”

Protesters gathered in Elizabeth City on Wednesday evening, urging officials to release footage of the shooting.

‘Repeating these tragedies’

Ramon Obey II — president of Justice, Unity and Social Transformation in Columbus, told The Dispatch he wasn’t surprised by the news of Bryant’s death shortly after Chauvin was convicted.

“The system of policing is broken, and until change takes place we are doomed to keep repeating these tragedies,” he said.

Other activists across the country say Chauvin’s conviction — a rarity in police shootings — is an example of accountability, not justice.

“True justice,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement, “requires so much more.”

Michigan Attorney General Keith Ellison said “justice implies true restoration.”

“But it is accountability,” he said, “which is the first step toward justice.”