Ta’Kiya Young, 21-year-old pregnant woman, is latest Black Ohioan killed by police
Ohio residents and activists are angry and demanding judicial action against police responsible for the killing of 21-year-old Ta'Kiya Young, left. The rally in the photo on the right, organized by JUST 614 under the theme 'Justice for Them All', commemorating all those killed by police recently, was held on Sept. 3. | Taylor Dorrell / People's World

BLENDON TOWNSHIP, Ohio—Police in the affluent Columbus suburb of Blendon Township shot and killed a 21-year-old pregnant woman and mother of two while she was sitting in her car outside the grocery store.

On August 24, reports of potential shoplifting at a Kroger grocery store in Blendon Township prompted local police to approach the vehicle of Ta’Kiya Young, a Black woman from Columbus.

In bodycam footage released many days after the incident, one police officer is seen at the driver’s side window. A loud verbal exchange escalates quickly as the officer accuses Young of stealing and demands that she exit the vehicle.

Meanwhile, a second officer is seen approaching and positioning himself in front of the vehicle. Young denies having stolen anything and begins to turn the steering wheel while the car idles forward. Within a split second, the officer standing in front of the car draws his gun and fires a single round into the driver.

Ta’Kiya Young died shortly afterwards. She was six-months pregnant with a baby girl, who died along with her mother.

The names of the two officers involved in the shooting have not been made public, pending investigation. A spokesperson for the Blendon Township Police Department claimed that both officers may be victims of criminal assault committed by Young.

Adrienne Hood, in red shirt, the mother of Henry Green who was killed by Columbus police in 2016. | Taylor Dorrell / People’s World

A spokesman for Young’s family told local media that it was “undeniable that Ta’Kiya’s death was not only avoidable, but also a gross misuse of power and authority.”

Experts who have reviewed the case agree with this characterization. Bowling Green State University criminal justice professor Philip Stinson reviewed the footage and found no evidence of a serious threat to either officer at the time of the shooting. He also criticized the officer who fired the lethal shot for his ill-considered decision to place himself in front of the vehicle when there was no apparent reason to do so.

“I think it violated agency policy, and it certainly led to the officer creating danger, the officer created an exigency that resulted in the officer discharging his firearm”

Retired LAPD officer Jeff Wenninger came to a similar conclusion. Writing in the Columbus Dispatch, Wenniger described the shooting as the result of “sheer incompetence.” Like Stinson, Wenninger was critical of the decision by the officer to place himself in front of the vehicle.

All this in response to a suspected misdemeanor shoplifting offense. No evidence has yet been provided to indicate Young was in possession of any stolen merchandise. Police would have presumably been free to search her vehicle in the aftermath of the shooting.

An attorney representing the Young family has said that witnesses at the scene confirmed Young was not in possession of stolen goods.

Ta’Kiya Young’s grandmother struggled to come to grips with the killing. “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.”

Ramon Obey II, a co-founder of JUST 614, speaks at the Sept. 3 rally. | Taylor Dorrell / People’s World

Anger flared within the Black community in Columbus, which has seen a string of police killings of Black residents in recent years. Donovan Lewis was shot and killed in his own bed by an officer serving an arrest warrant in August 2022. In April 2021, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Briant was shot and killed in the street by officers responding to a report of a fight between her and another girl. And in December 2020, Casey Goodson, Jr., was shot in the back and killed as he returned home with a sandwich, which officers mistook for a weapon. A protest gathered in Goodale on Labor Day to call for justice.

Connor Grubb, whom the family identifies as the officer who shot Young, is now on paid administrative leave from the police force. The Young family, the NAACP, JUST 614, and others are calling for his immediate dismissal, arrest, and prosecution for the murder of Ta’Kiya Young.

Sean L. Walton, the family’s attorney, spoke at her funeral:

“As Ta’Kiya Young is laid to rest today, we ask the world to listen to and learn her and her unborn daughter’s story. To tell their stories. To find any and every way you can to advocate for them. To let everyone know that ‘comply or die’ is not the rule of law in this country, and we will do everything we can to make sure that the laws in this country protect ALL of us, but especially our most vulnerable. The power is with the people, and the people stand with Ta’Kiya Young and her family.”


David Hill
David Hill

David Hill is a member of the Mike Gold Writer’s Collective. He follows labor, LGBTQ rights, policing, and other issues. He is a member of the National Writers Union and Freelance Solidarity Project.

Taylor Dorrell
Taylor Dorrell

Taylor Dorrell is a freelance writer and photographer, contributing writer at the Cleveland Review of Books, reporter at the Columbus Free Press, columnist at Matter News, and organizer in the Freelance Solidarity Project union. Dorrell is based in Columbus, Ohio.