Ta’Kiya Young, 21, was expecting her third child when cops in Blendon Township, a suburb of Columbus, fatally shot her through the window of her car in a Kroger parking lot. Her unborn daughter also did not survive.
In a video on Friday, Police Chief John Belford said Young and several others had stolen from the Kroger store before the fatal shooting.
He said two officers were in the parking lot that night helping someone who was having car problems, when a store employee approached them and said Young had stolen multiple bottles of liquor from the store.
Employees allegedly later told police there were multiple other people who had been stealing items, but they had already fled in other vehicles.
By the time the two officers reached Young, Belford said, she was already in her four-door sedan. One officer then stepped over to the driver’s side while the other stood in front of the vehicle as they told Young to exit the car and turn it off.
Police said Young had stolen several bottles of alcohol from a Kroger, and refused officers’ demands to get out of her car.WBNS 10TV
But Belford said those demands were ignored, and Young instead accelerated the car directly at the officer who was standing in front of it.
In response, he fired a single gunshot through the window.
Police then ran after the car for nearly 50 feet, Belford said, before it jumped a curb and crashed into a brick wall and columns outside the grocery store.
When officers finally approached the car, Belford said they discovered it was locked, so they broke through a window to get Young out of the vehicle and began providing medical aid.
A passerby also happened to be an emergency room doctor, who assisted police until paramedics arrived at the scene and transported Young to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The incident is now under investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the two officers involved are on paid leave.
Authorities said Young was already in her four-door sedan, and accelerated at an officer standing in front of it.WBNS 10TV
Body-camera footage from the encounter is expected to be released on Friday.
“Every loss of life is a tragedy,” Belford said in his video statement. “The family of the woman who died is understandably upset. I’ve spoken with a member of the family, and I will continue to keep them informed about what’s happening.”
News of Young’s death has caused outrage in the suburban town, where local activists and protest groups are demanding justice and accountability.
“It was nauseating to learn that a police officer would kill a pregnant woman and her unborn child,” NAACP-Columbus President Nana Watson told FOX 28.
Young’s grandmother and others have claimed the shooting was not justified.
“She stole something from the store,” Nadine Young, Ta’Kiya’s grandmother who raised her, told the Columbus Dispatch. “You didn’t have to shoot the woman; she would have eventually gotten out of the car. You didn’t have to kill her and the baby.”
Malissa Thomas-St. Clair, the co-founder of the anti-violence group Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children, added at a vigil for the slain mother-of-two: “Young people make mistakes, but because I make mistakes, I should learn from them and not die from them.
“When I’m hearing that shoplifting now equates with losing your life — and you’re pregnant? That deserves outrage.”
Friends comfort each other at a private candlelight vigil for Young and her unborn daughter.AP
Sandriana McBroom, right, and Makhiya Mcbroom, center, light candles that spell out “RIP Kiya” at a vigil held Friday.AP
The shooting came just days after Young’s grandmother called the authorities saying the 21-year-old was violating a protection order by showing up at her home, according to court records obtained by the Dispatch.
Young left before cops arrived, but a misdemeanor charge of violating a protection order was filed after Nadine filled out a witness statement.
She now says she is just focusing on building a support network for Young’s sons, ages 3 and 6.
“We’re all going to be rallying around [her sons], and be the village for them,” Nadine told the outlet. “Taking care of them, getting them into school, and keeping them focused and not having them hate the police. I don’t want them growing up like that.”