WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Footage from body-worn camera shows a pregnant woman asking police, “What, are you going to shoot me?” seconds before an Ohio officer fatally shot her outside a grocery store.
Blendon Township released body camera footage Friday from two police officers that showed the brief encounter with, and shooting of, Ta’Kiya Young, 21, who died later after being taken to St. Ann’s Hospital.
Young died August 24 after one of two responding officers shot her through the front windshield of a car, outside a Kroger whose employees claimed Young and others were stealing alcohol. The police department has declined to identify the two officers who approached Young’s car that evening, citing victims’ rights legislation called Marsy’s Law.
The body camera footage was redacted to shield the officers’ identities but showed that in the last moments of her life, Young asked the officer standing in front of the car if he was going to shoot her.
Footage from the officer who stood next to Young’s car showed he knocked on the car window and told Young to “get out of the car” multiple times. When she asked why, the officer said someone accused her of stealing from the store.
“I didn’t steal s—,” Young told the officer.
Footage from the officer who shot Young showed the car was blocked from the right by shopping carts and a police cruiser. As the first officer argued with Young, telling her to exit the vehicle about a dozen times, a second officer walked to the front of the car.
Young then began turning the wheel. The officer who stood in front of the car, with gun drawn and pointed at Young, placed his hand on the car’s hood. Young, still turning the wheel to the right, asked if he was going to shoot her.
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As the car continued slowly moving forward, one angle of footage showed the officer in front briefly lifted off the ground before regaining his footing. At the same time, he fired one shot before Young’s vehicle swerved right, away from the officer and toward the grocery store.
The car rolled about 50 feet, ending on the sidewalk outside the store’s entrance. Because the car was locked, the officer who shot Young broke the driver’s side window.
“Ta’Kiya’s death was not only avoidable, but also a gross misuse of power and authority,” Young’s family said in a statement. “As if the pain of losing Ta’Kiya isn’t enough, we must grapple with the knowledge that her unborn daughter was also robbed of her life in this hateful act.”
Young is survived by two sons.
“This was a tragedy,” Blendon Township Police Chief John Belford said in a news release that was released with the video. “Ms. Young’s family is understandably very upset and grieving.
“While none of us can fully understand the depths of their pain, all of us can remember them in our prayers and give them the time and space to deal with this heartbreaking turn of events.”
Belford said previously the officers immediately began rendering aid, with the assistance of an emergency room physician who happened to be nearby. Blendon Township police did not release footage showing officers rendering aid. A news release from the police department said paramedics arrived on scene within nine minutes of being called.
Blendon Township police has not said if officers found alcohol in the car with Young.
At a news conference Wednesday, Sean Walton, an attorney representing Young’s family, criticized the police department for the delay in release of the footage. On Friday, Belford said redacting the footage was “extremely complex” because of multiple angles and “reflective surfaces showing the faces of the two officers.”
Young’s family watched the video at Blendon Township police headquarters before it was released to the public. They were there less than 10 minutes and decided not to give any immediate comment.
Belford initially placed both officers on administrative leave after the shooting, but he announced Friday that the officer who didn’t shoot Young has since returned to duty.
He said the officer who shot Young is considered a victim of attempted vehicular assault and has not waived his right to privacy under Marsy’s Law. Blendon Township police considered the second officer a victim because Young pulled away while the officer’s arm was in the driver’s side window. Belford said it was misdemeanor assault.
At a news conference Friday, Brian Steel, executive vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9, said he couldn’t imagine what the officer who shot Young was thinking but said officers have a legal duty to act when alerted to potential crimes.
“Ms. Young was not shot for stealing alcohol,” Steel said. “She was shot because following an aggravated robbery, she tried to run down a fellow human being. … Ms. Young chose to accelerate her vehicle directly into the path of an officer.”
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting, as is typical when officers shoot civilians.
In their statement, Young’s family called for both a “thorough re-examination” of police training and for a quick indictment of the officer who killed her.
“The responsibility of law enforcement is to serve and protect all in our communities, not just those they deem worthy of protection and safety,” the statement read. “Officers of the law take an oath to protect human life, and in instances where they unjustly rob families of their loved ones, they must be held accountable.”
The Kroger, located at 5991 S. Sunbury Road, confirmed that it was closed Friday because of the shooting. It will reopen 6 a.m. Saturday.