“Are you going to shoot me?”
Those were some of 21-year-old Ta’Kiya Young’s last words before a police officer shot her in Blendon Township, Ohio, according to body camera footage made public on Friday. On August 24, the pregnant mother of two was killed after one officer shot through her windshield in a Kroger supermarket parking lot. Two officers, neither of whom have been identified, were called after store employees accused Young and unnamed others of stealing alcohol
The video shows one officer on the driver’s side of Young’s sedan, demanding that she exit the vehicle. She protests, stating that “other girls” were taking merchandise. A second officer then steps in front of the vehicle. The officer standing in front of the car draws his weapon and tells Young to “get out of the fucking car.” Young can be heard asking, “Are you going to shoot me?”
As the car slowly rolls forward, the second officer shoots, apparently striking Young. An officer announces that shots have been fired, and the car slowly rolls into two pillars while both officers scream at Young to stop the car. One officer breaks the window on Young’s driver’s side as the car slowly comes to a halt. The footage cuts to black. Both officers’ faces have been blurred in the footage.
“Ta’Kiya’s death was not only avoidable, but also a gross misuse of power and authority. 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’s family said in a statement.
Sean Walton, an attorney representing Young’s family, told the Associated Press that the young mother hadn’t stolen anything, and that his firm has found an eyewitness who will attest that Young put down bottles of alcohol as she exited the store. The officer who shot the young, Black mother is reportedly on paid administrative leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation looks into the case. Blendon Township’s police department is withholding the names of the officers involved, who it claims were both victims of “assault,” according to the Columbus Dispatch.
“There are many unanswered questions, partially because we don’t know the identity of this officer,” Walton said at a press conference prior to the video’s release. “We don’t know his previous history. We don’t know if any other citizens had interactions with this officer that could provide perspective with how we got here.”
Young’s death is only one of many to come at the hands of Ohio police officers, who have killed at least 14 people this year and whose casualties include 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus and 25-year-old Jayland Walker in Akron. Her family, alongside several activists and protestors, are calling for the release of the unedited footage of Young’s killing and the arrest of the officer who fired the fatal shot.
On August 25, Young’s family and friends held a vigil for her and her unborn baby girl, who she was expected to give birth to in November. She is survived by her two sons, 6-year-old Ja’Kobie and 3-year-old Ja’Kenlie.