Protests continued in the city of Brooklyn Center for the second night following the killing of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man who 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, according to CNN. What was, however, supposed to be a routine traffic stop quickly escalated after 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.
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.
As investigations continue, Face2Face Africa shares with you what we know so far about the shooting:
Body camera footage of the incident that was made public on Monday shows officers walking to the parked vehicle Wright is in. He then steps out of his vehicle after one of the officers briefly talks to him. As officers attempt to handcuff him, Wright breaks free and re-enters the vehicle and a struggle ensues.
A female officer is heard yelling, “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before saying: “Holy sh*t! I just shot him.”
In a press conference on Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said 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.
“As I watched the video and listened to the officer’s commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Gannon said, according to CNN. “This appears to me, from what I’ve viewed and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.”
Potter has been placed on administrative leave pending investigations. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said he wants Potter terminated from the force as her actions are inexcusable. “Let me be very clear: My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession,” he said at a news conference on Monday, according to The Washington Post. “So I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties.”
Account by brother and mother
Speaking to CNN, Damik Bryant said he was exchanging text messages with his deceased brother prior to the shooting. Wright was reportedly on his way to Bryant’s home for a visit when he was pulled over, and he even informed Bryant about the holdup when he asked him why he was delaying. Bryant said Wright also asked him for information pertaining to insurance and he referred him to their mom. He said Wright provided the officers with his details before reaching out to their mother.
“They asked him to step out the car, and you know his first instinct was, ‘What did I do, what’s wrong?’ And they were like, ‘Well, put the phone down, get out the car now, we’ll talk to you about it when you get out,’” Bryant recalled.
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, also reportedly said her son called her to inform her he had been pulled over because of air fresheners he had hung on the car’s rearview mirror.
“I heard the police officer come to the window and say, ‘Put the phone down and get out of the car,’ and Daunte said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘We’ll explain to you when you get out of the car,’” she told KARE.
“So, I heard the phone get either put on the dashboard or dropped, and I heard scuffling, and I heard the police officers say, ‘Daunte don’t run.’ And then the other officer said, ‘Put the phone down’” she recalled.
President Biden’s response
Responding to the incident, President Joe Biden on Monday expressed his condolences to Wright’s family and called for “peace and calm” following the curfew-defying and violent protests that ensued in the city after the shooting.
“I haven’t called Daunte Wright’s family, but my prayers are with the family. It’s really a tragic thing that happened,” he told reporters, according to NBC News. “The question is was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full-blown investigation.”
He also referred to the footage of the shooting incident as “fairly graphic.”