DeWine calls Columbus teen’s death a tragedy, asks Ohioans to let facts come out


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Gov. Mike DeWine said the death of a 16-year-old girl shot by a Columbus police officer is a “tragedy” but added people need to wait for facts to be released.

“Anytime anyone is killed it’s a tragedy. Anytime a teenager is killed, a child is killed, it is a horrible tragedy,” he said. “I think we need to let the investigation play out.”

A Columbus Division of Police officer shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant while responding to a 911 call for a person who reported being physically threatened, the Associated Press reported.

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A video released by the police department showed Bryant with a knife over a female on the ground and then turning to another person leaning against a vehicle before the officer shot her.

The shooting took place around the time a jury was announcing the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

DeWine said he has seen the video of the shooting.

He asked that Ohioans wait for an impartial body to gather the facts and to complete an investigation before reacting.

“One thing I have learned is that gathering the facts is the most important thing there is,” the governor said. “Sometimes that takes longer than we’d like.”

DeWine said he’s “very sorry” for anyone whose loses a child, saying it’s “the worst thing that can happen to you.”

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The governor also shared police reform efforts in Ohio, including legislation that would create a peace officer oversight board with the power to suspend licenses, an officer discipline database and use of force database.

DeWine said he’s been in contact with Ohio Rep. Phil Plummer, a former Montgomery County sheriff, about the reform package and that it is expected to be introduced in the next few days.

The legislation included input from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association, civil rights leaders and other groups.

It will increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement, DeWine said.

The bill would also require an independent investigation of officer-involved critical incidents and a sustainable funding source for law enforcement training.

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DeWine noted that training is often inconsistent across different law enforcement agencies in Ohio due to issues with funding.

“You should have basic training every single year,” he said.

An established fund would avoid the state from having to find space in the budget every cycle.

The governor also discussed actions taken in Ohio in the last year related to police reform, including banning the use of chokeholds unless deadly force would be authorized and the purchase of body cameras for Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers.

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