I’ve just watched the footage of the horrific killing of 21-year-old Ta’Kiya Young.
Young, who was pregnant with a baby girl, was shot in the chest by a police officer as she tried to flee arrest in her car at the Kroger on South Sunbury Road in Blendon Township, Ohio.
I’d been told that the officer was just defending himself, so I wanted to look for myself and see if that was believable.
I do caution my readers that this footage is incredibly disturbing. It’s shown from two different body cameras, first from the officer who shot her and then from the other officer.
The first officer, who was not identified by the police but whom Young’s family identified as Connor Grubb, doesn’t seem to be responding to a shoplifting case at all; he’s helping someone who accidentally locked their keys in the car at first. Then someone alerts another officer that Young, who has just gotten into her car, has shoplifted liquor with her. He starts ordering her out of the car, calmly, again and again, as she denies guilt through the window which is slightly rolled down.
Grubb leaves the person he was helping. He approaches the car and stands directly in front of it. I’m told police are trained never to stand in front of a car, which no sane person would do anyway in a situation like this, but the officer plants himself there. He aims the gun directly at the woman’s chest as she argues with the other officer, who is not holding his gun. Grubb then starts cursing at the woman, demanding “get out of the f*ckin’ car!”
Young yells “You’re gonna shoot me!” gesturing at Grubb.
“Then get out. Go!” says the first officer.
Young panics and starts driving; at this point the other officer’s hand and arm are a little way into the partially open window. Grubb doesn’t step out of the way; in fact, he leans forward and touches the hood of the car as if he could stop it with his hands. She does not accelerate directly at Grubb as some have claimed. She turns the wheel sharply and attempts to go to the right, out of the parking spot and away from the gun, driving at only about five miles an hour. She obviously was trying to drive around the officer. The bumper clips Grubb’s knee at about the same moment or a moment after Grubb shoots her through the windshield, right in the chest. Someone, I believe the Kroger employee, shrieks. The car continues to drive in a right turn at about five miles per hour, toward the grocery store– further proof that she was desperately trying NOT to hit the officer while trying to flee. If she’d been going forward, she would have plowed into him straight on even after she was shot.
Grubb puts his hand over his bodycam and yells “shots fired!” as he chases the car on foot.
The first officer chases the car and punches the window, apparently not understanding that Young is dead. He bangs on it, yelling “stop the goddamn car!”
Grubb leans over and tries the door, which is locked.
The car finally stops when it crashes into the Kroger’s brick wall. Grubb then smashes the window, shattering glass all over Young’s body.
That’s where the footage cuts off; the officers say that after this, they administered first aid, but it was too late.
There was absolutely no reason for any of this.
This was not only the cruelest possible thing Grubb could have done, it’s the stupidest thing. It’s the thing that put the most people in danger. If he hadn’t been there, the worst possible scenario is that Young would have fled, they’d have run her plates, and arrested her at home.
Nobody was in danger of harm until Grubb got there. He chose to stand in front of the car. He waved a gun at a panicking woman, making her panic further. When she started to drive, he didn’t step out of the way which he could easily have done. He might have tried to shoot the tire so that the car couldn’t get anywhere, but instead he shot Young directly in the chest– while the other officer had his hand and arm in the car inches away, while there was a Kroger employee standing dangerously close. Not only was killing Young and her unborn baby completely unnecessary, he came close to shooting the other officer as well, and the out of control car could have hit somebody else.
All this for, allegedly, a few bottles of liquor.
A few bottles of liquor and two orphans.
A few bottles of liquor and one more trauma for Ohio’s Black community.
A few bottles of liquor and the reminder that we are not a free country; we’re constantly at the mercy of our brutal police. And it’s not as though the Columbus area is a stranger to such brutality.
There are calls for more police training, but I don’t know how training is going to help. These officers were obviously trained. One chose to follow his script, and the other disregarded training and shot a pregnant woman.
We can’t reform that.
My heart goes out to the family of Ta’Kiya Young. I can’t imagine their agony right now.
We live in a terrible country.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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