CNN's Keilar refers to girl attacked by Ma'Khia Bryant as being 'so close to Ma’Khia when she was shot'

Editorializing anchor moved to host CNN morning program this week

CNN anchor Brianna Keilar was pilloried on social media Thursday after referring to the girl who was nearly stabbed by Ma'Khia Bryant Tuesday as merely someone who "was so close to Ma'Khia when she was shot."

In an interview with left-wing author Ibram X. Kendi, Keilar appeared to agree with his opinion that the Columbus, Ohio police officer who shot the 16-year-old Bryant inappropriately used deadly force.

"I look at that video and ask if that were my child or if my child were the child in pink who was so close to Ma’Khia when she was shot, what would have happened?" Keilar asked. "I think a lot of people are asking that."

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Critics jumped on Keilar for appearing to ignore the fact that the unidentified girl in the pink sweatsuit was being attacked by Bryant. The anchor, known for editorializing on her dayside program, moved to CNN morning show "New Day" this week.

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In a separate interview Thursday with CNN law enforcement analyst Anthony Barksdale, Keilar said she understood his assessment that the officer acted properly, but fretted that the girl in the pink sweatsuit could have been caught in the crossfire, even though the officer's actions likely prevented her from being stabbed.

"I think we all know a knife is a dangerous weapon, even if it isn’t a gun, but there are so many people who are looking at this as parents," Keilar said. "I think of this as if this were my child or I think of the girl who was in pink, if she were my child. She was so close to Ma’Khia. She also could have easily been shot. There were four shots. I wonder what could have been different. Couldn’t something have been different?"

Barksdale replied that the officer was too far away from the struggle to deploy a Taser and only had seconds to make his decision.

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"Per training, the officer did his job, and we need to start looking at each incident as its own incident," he said.

Barksdale's remark appeared to allude to the attempt by some media outlets and activists to connect the Columbus tragedy to the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin.

Multiple media outlets have shared misleading videos that either ignore or downplay that Bryant had a knife when the shooting occurred, while Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the ground for nearly ten minutes by Chauvin, who was convicted of murder and manslaughter this week.

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Use-of-force experts told The Columbus Dispatch that video appeared to justify the officer's decision to shoot Bryant. Bodycam footage showed the officer hurrying out of his vehicle as Bryant, holding a knife, pushed down one female before turning and attacking the girl in pink, pushing her onto the hood of a car and beginning to swing the knife.

The officer then fired four times, fatally wounding Bryant.