Body camera footage of controversial fatal police shooting in Ohio released to the public

As the first Blendon Township police officer speaks with Young, who is not adhering to the officer's instructions, a second officer circles around to get in front of the vehicle. (Blendon Township Police Department)

Body camera footage showing the events leading up to a police officer fatally shooting a pregnant Black woman in Westerville, Ohio, was released to the public on Friday.

Ta'Kiya Young, a 21-year-old mother of two kids and pregnant with a third, went to a Kroger in the suburb of Blendon Township on Aug. 24, but never returned after she was suspected of shoplifting. Police approached Young outside the store, and she was ultimately shot and killed in the parking lot. Her unborn daughter did not survive.

Her family said the shooting "should have never ever, ever happened." Police described Young's death as an "unfortunate loss of life" but said she was accelerating her car toward an officer. 

The events leading up to the shooting were recorded on the Ohio officers’ bodycam, and the Blendon Township Police Department released the footage to set the record straight.

Blendon Township Police Chief John Belford briefly recounted the events that transpired in a video statement the day after the shooting. The video released on Friday appeared to confirm his description.

The video, narrated by retired Sheriff Russ Martin, appears to show two Blendon Township officers who were initially at the scene helping someone who was locked out of their car.

In the video, a Kroger employee can be seen approaching the officers and informing them several people had stolen items from the store. The employee then points the officers to Young, who was sitting "in a Lexus sedan with no license tags parked in a handicapped spot right in front of the store," Belford said.

The video shows one of the officers initially approaching the black Lexus and the other abandoning the initial locked vehicle to assist his partner. The second officer is seen circling the Lexus as the first officer can be heard instructing Young to get out of the vehicle.

Both officers can be heard on the video instructing her to stop multiple times and to exit the vehicle, but she appears noncompliant. The second officer also draws a gun, the video shows.

She can be heard shouting back, "What? Are you going to shoot me?" before she begins to put the car into gear and accelerate.

The police chief previously explained, "The officer who was directly in the path of the oncoming car fired one shot through the front windshield. The body camera footage I’ve reviewed also confirms the officer was directly in the path of the car."

The video seems to confirm that explanation as it appears to show the officer at the front of the vehicle being dragged several feet, then firing a single shot through the windshield.

The video shows the car continuing for about 50 feet before it stops at the front of the building.

Both officers race after the vehicle on foot, and one can be heard alerting dispatch that there were "shots fired." 

Young appears slumped over as both officers hit the window, causing it to break.

Police Chief Belford previously explained the officers successfully broke into the vehicle, retrieved Young and began administering medical assistance. An emergency room doctor who happened to be at the scene also helped.

Young died at St. Ann’s hospital, police said.

The names of the two officers, or their ages and races, have not been released. They are on paid administrative leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation reviews the shooting, a standard procedure.

Police have not released further details on the shooting.

Earlier in the week, before the video was publicly released, Young’s grandmother, Nadine, said the shooting "was just wrong." 

"I’m a mess because it’s just tragic," Nadine Young said Wednesday at a press conference, WSYX reported. "It shouldn't have ever, ever, ever happened. She shouldn't be 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 expected to give birth to a daughter in November. The girl would have been the young family’s first as she was the mother of two young sons, ages 6 and 3. 

"She was so excited to have this little girl," Nadine Young said. "She has her two little boys, but she was so fired up to have this girl. She is going to be so missed."

In addition to the bodycam's contents, the timing of the video's release has also come under scrutiny.

The police chief said the video’s release was delayed as a staff processed it and redacted certain footage in accordance with Ohio law. 

"Following an officer involved shooting in Blendon Township last Thursday, we are currently preparing the body camera video for public release," he said. "This process includes the following steps: Identifying and applying the required legal redactions, proving the redactions to legal counsel to ensure compliance with the law, providing the investigating agency with what will be released to minimize any potential interference with their investigation, and then allowing the family of the woman who died the opportunity to see the video before the public does."

The statement added, "Blendon Township has a small staff, but we are still committed to abiding by Ohio public records law, which requires records like body camera video to be released in a reasonable amount of time."

The family's lawyer, Sean Walton, suggested the police department chose to delay the release of the bodycam video to minimize potential scrutiny and media attention.

"We have to understand how unfair this process is and why we have to push 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 bodycam footage to be immediately released.

"Ta’Kiyah was in a state of flight from the moment she was allegedly pointed out to the officers until her life was taken," the statement read, per WSYX. "She is the victim here, and we demand accountability 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 his escalation of this incident that led to their deaths."

NAACP Columbus President Nana Watson urged police on Monday to release the video.

"The community becomes more anxious, and once the community becomes more anxious, things begin to escalate and not in a good way. We want them to release it now," Watson said.

A police shooting in the city last year was met with protests and marches. Donovan Lewis, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed while in bed by Columbus police while they attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Aug. 30, 2022.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.