COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) – The funeral for a Black teenager shot by police as she wielded a knife during a melee in Columbus, Ohio, last week drew family, friends and elected officials on Friday who delivered eulogies, appeals for unity and calls for an overhaul of policing.
In her final moments, captured on widely seen police videos, Ma’Khia Bryant could be seen lunging at two people with a knife as officers arrived at a chaotic scene in which several people were fighting in front of her foster home.
But at the First Church of God, Bryant, 16, was remembered as a loving family member, and a good student with a promising future.
“She enjoyed sharing her opinions,” her cousin, Don Bryant, said from a pulpit above her casket. “But where Ma’Khia is far more advanced than any of us in the family could ever be was through her kindness.”
Bryant’s fatal shooting occurred on April 20 when a Minneapolis jury convicted a white former police officer for last year’s murder of George Floyd that touched off nationwide protests over racism in policing.
At her funeral, speakers portrayed her death as a unifying opportunity and a call to avoid similar tragedies.
“Today I pray for this community, and for Black people to come together and stand together with white people and brown people and yellow people in the name of Ma’Khia Bryant,” said U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty, whose district includes Columbus and who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.
The incident, the third high-profile police shooting of a Black person since December, is being investing by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, who attended the service, said on Thursday that he asked the U.S. Justice Department to review the practices of the city’s police department.
(Writing by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)