Body camera footage showing the events leading up to a Westerville, Ohio police officer fatally shooting a pregnant black woman is expected to be released to the public on Friday.
Ta’Kiya Young, a 21-year-old mother of two and pregnant with a third, went to a Kroger in the suburb of Blendon Township on August 24 but never returned after she was suspected of shoplifting and approached by police outside the store and was eventually shot in the parking lot. Her unborn daughter did not survive.
Her family said the shooting “should never, never have happened.” Police described Young’s death as an “unfortunate loss of life,” but said she sped her car toward an officer.
The events leading up to the shooting were recorded on Ohio officers’ bodycams and the Blendon Township Police Department will release the footage to clarify the matter.
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Blendon Township Police Chief John Belford gave a brief video statement of what happened the day after the shooting the day after the shooting. He said the two officers involved initially got on the scene and helped someone get into a locked car.
Officers were then approached by a Kroger employee and told them several people had stolen items from the store.
The clerk then directed officers to Young, who was “seated in an unmarked Lexus sedan that was parked in an accessible lot directly in front of the store,” Belford said.
The clerk told officers she allegedly took bottles of alcohol free of charge, prompting both officers to circle the vehicle.
They told her several times to stop and get out, the police chief said. Then Young put the car in gear and accelerated.
“The officer, who was directly in the path of the oncoming car, fired a shot through the windshield,” the police chief said. “The body camera footage I was looking at also confirms that the officer was right in the path of the car.”
The car continued for about 15 meters before coming to a stop on the pavement near Sunbury Road. Officers then broke into the vehicle, retrieved Young, and began providing medical care. An ambulance who happened to be there also helped, Belford said.
She died at St. Ann’s Hospital, police said.
The names of the two officers, along with their age and race, were not released. They are on paid administrative leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation reviews the shooting, standard procedure.
Police have not released any further details about the shooting.
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Young’s grandmother, Nadine, said the shooting was “just wrong.”
“I’m a mess because it’s just tragic,” Nadine Young said at a news conference Wednesday, WSYX reported. “It should never, never, never have happened. She shouldn’t have been gone. It was just wrong.”
She also described her granddaughter as family-oriented and loving, as well as an older sister and mother.
Young was due to give birth to a daughter in November. The girl would have been the first of the young family, as she was the mother of two young sons aged 6 and 3.
“She was so excited to have this little girl,” said Nadine Young. “She has her two young sons but she was so excited to have this girl. She will be so missed.”
In addition to the content of the bodycam, the time of publication of the video is also under scrutiny.
The police chief said the video’s release was delayed because employees were processing it and redacting certain footage in accordance with Ohio laws.
“After an officer was involved in a shooting in Blendon Township last Thursday, we are currently preparing the body camera video for release,” he said. “This process includes the following steps: identifying and applying the required legal redactions, demonstrating the redactions to legal counsel to ensure compliance with the law, providing the investigating agency with the released information to minimize potential disruption to their investigations, and then approving the.” To give the deceased woman’s family an opportunity to see the video before it becomes public.”
The statement continued, “Blendon Township has few employees, but we are still required to comply with the Ohio Public Records Act, which requires that records, such as body camera videos, be released within a reasonable time.”
Family attorney Sean Walton suggested police delay the release of the bodycam video to minimize possible investigation and media attention.
“We need to understand how unfair this process is and why we are pushing for accountability,” Walton said during the press conference. “The only victims here are Ta’Kiya and her unborn child.”
Ahead of Wednesday’s press conference, Walton released a statement calling for the immediate release of the bodycam footage.
“Ta’Kiyah was in a state of fugitive from the moment she was allegedly shown to officers until her death,” the statement said, according to WSYX. “She is the victim here and we demand responsibility for the loss of two precious lives – Ta’Kiyah and her unborn daughter. The officer responsible must be identified, the body camera footage must be released immediately, and the officer and this department must be held accountable for the escalation of this incident that led to her death.”
NAACP Columbus President Nana Watson urged police Monday to release the video.
“The community is getting more anxious, and as the community becomes more anxious things start to escalate, and not in a good way. We want them to release it now,” Watson said.
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A police shooting in the city last year sparked protests and marches. Donovan Lewis, a 20-year-old black man, was shot dead in bed by Columbus police on August 30, 2022 while trying to serve a warrant.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.