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Blendon Twp. Police release Kroger footage showing Ta'Kiya Young theft, shooting

Blendon Township Police released more footage Friday showing what led up to the fatal police shooting of Ta'Kiya Young on Aug. 24.

Footage from the Kroger store on South Sunbury Road shows the 21-year-old woman, who is visibly pregnant, taking several bottles of alcohol off of the shelves of a Ohio Liquor Store inside the Kroger and placing them into two bags she was carrying. Young, after waiting briefly in line, exited the store with two other women and sets off alarms.

After the women left Kroger, Young headed toward her black Lexus sedan and got inside. The footage also displays what was previously shown on body camera footage released by Blendon Township Police one week ago.

Two Blendon Townshiip Police officers confronted Young and ordered her to exit her vehicle. Within seconds, Young tried to pull away in her car, pushing one officer who was in front of her. That officer shot through the windshield and hit Young in the chest.

Young later died at St. Ann's Hospital. Her funeral was held Thursday. Her family placed her in an open casket holding her unborn daughter in her arms.

The footage appears to contradict Young's family's version of events. Sean Walton, the family's lawyer, claimed witnesses told him Young had set down the bottles before leaving the store and cast doubt on the alleged theft. The footage does not show anyone setting the bags down.

Walton has not responded to a request for comment.

Police also released additional body camera footage showing the first aid officers provided to Young after she was shot. Previously released footage ended after the officers broke her window to get her out of the car.

In the new footage, one officer is seen quickly running to his cruiser, grabbing two chest seals and quickly running back to Young to apply them. Young was also handcuffed as she received first aid, which is standard police procedure.

It took more than 11 minutes from the time that one officer yelled "shots fired" to the time the ambulance arrived on scene. During that time, a passerby who was an emergency room doctor also assisted the officers in giving first aid to Young.

Both of the officers' faces and identifying features were blurred in these videos. Blendon Township Police are refusing to identify them under Marsy's Law, which protects victims of crime.

Blendon Township Police Chief John Belford defended the use of Marsy's Law in a statement accompanying the release of the newest footage.

“We’re aware that some people are calling for our department to deliberately ignore Marsy’s Law and release the names and identifying features of the two officers who Ms. Young assaulted with her car,” Belford said. “But Marsy’s Law is mandatory, and we can’t release identifying information about crime victims unless they waive those rights.”

This is the latest release of public records from the Blendon Township Police Department. On Thursday, the department released the full police roster, showing 12 full-time officers, detectives, sergeants, the chief of police, two part-time officers and one reserve officer. The department also released an incident report and summary from the day of the shooting.

The incident report, dated Sept. 4 more than a week after the shooting, was redacted, but summarized the shooting as a critical incident.

The report stated in full:

"On (Aug. 24) officers were assisting a female in the parking lot of Kroger by unlocking her car, During that, a Kroger employee came out and told officers that a different female just stole items and was getting into her car. Officers made contact with the female suspect. During the contact, a critical incident occurred. Due to the critical incident the investigation was turned over to BCI."

“We received many public records requests for the body camera videos, as well as the surveillance footage from inside the store,” Belford said in a statement accompanying the latest videos. “Given the complexity of the redactions, it took our small department a lot of time to consult with our legal team and then make the legally required, frame by frame redactions on more than 50,000 frames of video. While this footage shows a tragic situation, we have a responsibility to be transparent and provide the records the law requires us to release.”

WOSU also submitted public records requests for a list of which officers are currently on administrative leave and any internal communications, text messages or memos regarding the shooting between officers and the police chief after the shooting.

“This was a tragic situation for everyone,” Belford said. “We recognize that these videos will create more discussion and even anger by people who have passionate feelings for or against the officer’s actions. But we’re simply complying with our promise of transparency and our obligation to release public records as required by state law.”

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting, which is standard procedure when an on-duty police officer fires a weapon.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.