(CNN) — Newly released police body camera footage shows an officer firing through the windshield of a pregnant woman’s car after she was accused of shoplifting at a grocery store in a Columbus, Ohio, suburb last week.
The woman, 21-year-old Ta’kiya Young – whose death her family called a “criminal act” and “gross misuse of power and authority” after seeing the footage – was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The video shows a Blendon Township police officer approaching Young’s driver’s side window outside a Kroger in Westerville and repeatedly telling her to get out of the car.
A second officer, who is also wearing a body camera, then steps in front of the sedan.
“They said you stole something….get out of the car,” the officer at the window says, telling Young not to leave.
“I didn’t steal sh*t,” Young can be heard saying as the two argue back and forth with her window slightly ajar.
Police previously said a grocery store employee had notified officers that a woman who had stolen bottles of alcohol was in a car parked outside the store.
“Get out of the f**king car,” the officer standing in front of the car says, his gun drawn and his left hand braced on the hood of the car, the video shows.
At one point, Young is heard saying, “You gonna shoot me?”
Young can then be seen turning the wheel of the car as the officer next to her window continues to urge her to exit the vehicle.
“Get out of the f**king car,” the officer in front of the car repeats as the vehicle begins to move slowly forward, the video shows.
A few seconds elapse and then the officer standing in front of the hood fires through the windshield.
After the shot, the officers run alongside the car yelling at the driver to stop.
The car rolls onto a sidewalk between two brick columns and into a building.
Officers call for backup and break the window to reach the driver, who appears to be slumped over to one side.
Brian Steel, executive vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge #9, said, “A weapon is not just a firearm. A weapon is also a 2000-pound vehicle that somebody puts in gear and is driving at you.”
“I understand why it could be justified but, again, I don’t make that decision,” Steel told reporters Friday, referring to the shooting. He said he assumed the officer believed he could not get out of the way of the vehicle quickly enough.
Young was pregnant; her unborn child didn’t survive
The body camera footage released by the Blendon Township Police Department blurred the faces of the officers. The footage is edited and spliced together.
Young was pregnant at the time of her death and the fetus did not survive, the Franklin County Coroner’s Office previously said. Young’s cause of death is pending.
Police say the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting an independent investigation of the shooting.
The BCI probe could take “several weeks or months,” according to Steve Irwin, the press secretary for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which includes BCI. Once completed, the investigative findings will be forwarded to the county prosecutor who will make a decision on pursuing any potential charges, he said.
Young’s family and their attorney, in a statement released after viewing the video on Friday, said the footage showed it was “undeniable that Ta’Kiya’s death was not only avoidable, but also a gross misuse of power and authority.”
“After seeing the video footage of her death, this is clearly a criminal act and the family demands a swift indictment of this officer for the killings of both Ta’Kiyah and her unborn daughter,” the statement said.
Police say officers were victims of ‘assault’
Police say the officers haven’t “waived their rights as victims” in this incident and are withholding their identities.
“When Ms. Young drove her car directly at Officer #1, striking him, Officer #1 became a victim of attempted vehicular assault,” police said in a news release.
“When Ms. Young pulled away from Officer #2 while his hand and part of his arm was still in the driver’s side window, Officer #2 became a victim of misdemeanor assault,” according to the police.
Authorities said the officers quickly helped Young after the shooting, adding EMS was called 10 seconds after she was taken out of the car. The officer who fired the shot also grabbed a trauma kit and applied a chest seal to her wound in under two minutes after she was removed from the vehicle.
The officer who fired his weapon is still on administrative leave, but the second officer is back at work. Chief John Belford said, after reviewing the videos, he didn’t see a reason to keep the second officer on leave.
“I returned him to duty, as our staffing is already very limited,” he said, noting both officers would still be subject to a “full administrative review” after the BCI investigation.
“Last week, there was a tragedy in our community,” Belford said in a statement. Due to potential litigation, he said, the department is “very limited in what we can say.”
“We’re being as transparent and forthcoming as we can, given these significant legal constraints.” He cited an ongoing BCI investigation and potential “personnel actions” regarding the officer who opened fire.
The Blendon Township Police Department’s use of force policy says that when it’s “feasible,” officers should take “reasonable steps” to get out of the way of an approaching vehicle instead of firing a weapon.
“An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the imminent threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others,” the policy states.
Young’s family, in the statement, said: “Ta’Kiya was a beacon of love, strength, and energy to all who knew her. Her tragic passing has left a void that words can’t describe, especially for her two young sons, who must now grow up without the love and guidance of their mother, and while coming to understand the circumstances that led to her homicide.”
The statement said the shooting “is yet another painful reminder of the urgent need for a thorough re-examination of police training, policies, and procedures.”
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