(CNN) — Ma’Khia Bryant loved styling her curly hair in front of her camera phone and posting about it on TikTok.
“My baby was an innocent, talented, bubbly, loving teenager,” her mother, Paula Bryant, told reporters earlier this week.
Ma’Khia, 16, died April 20 during an encounter with a Columbus, Ohio, police officer at her foster home. On Friday, a local church is opening its doors for her family to mourn her passing.
Friday’s service will be at least the third funeral The First Church of God is handling for the families of Black people killed by police. The church had hosted funerals for Andre Hill, 47, in January and Casey Goodson Jr., 23, in December.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and City Attorney Zach Klein are asking the US Department of Justice to review the city’s police department practices, CNN affiliate WBNS reported.
“We believe this will help provide an environment that fosters trust between residents and police — and will ultimately lead to a Columbus that is safer for everyone,” Ginther said about the letter in a tweet.
Ma’Khia’s family and their attorney have repeatedly said they don’t want the teenager to be remembered by the incident that ended her life.
She had a great sense of humor, always wanted to make everyone laugh, and enjoyed cooking. The 11th grader was also on the honor roll, according to her obituary.
One of her aunts told reporters that she had a “vibrant personality” and her grandmother, Jeanene Hammonds, recalled how Ma’Khia used to sing while they were driving.
Many systems failed to protect her, family attorney says
Ma’Khia was in foster care at the home where the shooting took place.
Angela Moore, the woman who cared for Ma’Khia in foster care, has said two of her former foster children were visiting to celebrate her birthday when the young women and Ma’Khia began arguing over a messy home and unmade bed. The argument led to a fight that ended with the police shooting.
Police body camera video of the shooting shows the officers exiting their car and seeing Ma’Khia lunge at another young woman with a knife outside the house. Officials in Columbus have urged residents to await the facts in the investigation.
Authorities 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.
The attorney for the girl’s family said Wednesday that “the many systems responsible for Ma’Khia’s protection failed her.”
Franklin County Children’s Services has said Bryant was a foster child in the county’s care, CNN has reported.
“Without these failings, Ma’Khia Bryant would still be with us today,” attorney Michelle Martin said in a statement.
Martin told reporters on Wednesday that she intends to conduct an investigation into why the police officer “chose lethal force” and every agency that had a chance to prevent the girl’s death.
“If you aren’t angry about why this happened, If you’re not angry about why this continues to happen, then you are truly the problem,” Martin said.
“We have to protect our children, they are our core. We have to do more, Ma’Khia deserves more,” she said. “Ma’Khia deserves justice.”
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