“He was a son, he was a brother, he was an uncle, he was a grandson and he was so much more.” That was how Daunte Wright’s mother Katie described him on Monday night when community members gathered with the family of the deceased to remember him.
Wright loved to “goof around”, play sports and drive the car he had just been given by a family member, relatives said at a news conference Tuesday. The 20-year-old’s life was however cut short when he was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop on Sunday. The tragic incident occurred after Wright was pulled over for driving with an expired tag, police said. Officers attempted to arrest him when they realized he reportedly had an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor offenses after running his name through their system.
As one of the officers attempted to handcuff him, Wright, who was in the company of his girlfriend, broke free and re-entered the vehicle. Moments after that, another officer deployed her weapon and shot the 20-year-old father. The vehicle moved a couple of miles afterward before colliding with another car.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon later said at a press conference that he believed the shooting was accidental as the officer who fatally shot Wright thought she was deploying a Taser instead of a gun. The officer in question was identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year-veteran with the Brooklyn Center police force. She has since resigned. The incident happens at a time when the city has been rife with tensions due to the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial. The fatal shooting also reportedly occurred just 10 miles from the location George Floyd was killed.
At Tuesday’s news conference arranged by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who will legally represent the Wright family going forward, Wright’s mother Katie said her son grew up in the Minneapolis area. He was a family man and a wonderful dad with a two-year-old son, Daunte Jr., she said. Two years ago, Wright dropped out of high school after struggling with a learning disability, his father told The Washington Post.
Wright, who comes from a loving family, worked to support his son while planning to get his GED. “He was so much more, and he did not deserve this. My heart is literally broken into a thousand pieces,” his mother said at the Monday night vigil. Cousin Mario Greer said Wright’s favorite holiday was the Fourth of July. “We liked to shoot Roman candles at each other. We’re not going to be able to do that anymore…I love you, Daunte,” Greer said.
He also made many friends growing up. “He was connected to people, people knowing him and being in that community – and of course feeling outraged,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a former head of the NAACP in Minneapolis. It also emerged that Wright was mentored at Thomas Edison High School in Minneapolis by Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross. “The craziest thing is to find out today that my family has connections to this man, to this family. His girlfriend was a teacher for my nephew,” Naisha Wright said at the news conference. Floyd’s family met Wright’s for the first time during the news conference. They hugged and prayed that “heaven opens up and justice rains down on us.”
Tuesday’s news conference also had in attendance groups supporting families of victims of police violence. A GoFundMe account has been started to pay for Wright’s funeral, and to support his two-year-old son. As of Tuesday, the fund had raised more than $240,000.