BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. – Police in Minnesota on Monday released footage from the body-worn camera of the officer who fatally shot a 20-year-old Black man, and the police chief said he believed the officer intended to fire a Taser during the incident.
Daunte Wright, 20, died after the traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Sunday.
Footage from the incident released during a new conference shows two other officers approaching Wright’s car and the officer who fired the shot standing behind them.
As the officer on the driver side of the vehicle begins to handcuff Wright, a struggle ensues and Wright appears to reenter the driver side of the car. The officer is heard shouting, “Taser,” before she shoots Wright.
“It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said Monday.
Wright’s death comes as Minneapolis, 10 miles south, was on edge in the middle of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who faces murder charges in the death of George Floyd last May.
Police responded to protests Sunday with riot gear as demonstrators gathered in the city, mourning Wright’s death. Video posted to Twitter showed police firing gas and a chemical agent at protesters who gathered at the police department Sunday night.
Here’s what we know Monday:
What happened during the Daunte Wright shooting?
Brooklyn Center Police Department said in a statement that officers initiated a traffic stop around 2 p.m. Sunday. The statement did not indicate what the initial stop was for other than “a traffic violation.” Officers determined the driver had an outstanding warrant and tried to take the driver into custody, police said.
The driver re-entered his vehicle, and an officer shot him, police said. The car drove several more blocks before striking another vehicle. Police said the driver died at the scene, and a woman in the passenger seat was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
No one in the other vehicle was harmed, police said.
Daunte’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters her son was driving a vehicle the family had given him weeks ago and called her as he was being pulled over with his girlfriend in the car, the New York Times reported.
“He called me at about 1:40, said he was getting pulled over by the police,” she said in a Facebook Live video. “He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.”
The police department said it asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to conduct an independent investigation.
Mayor Mike Elliott said a news conference would be held Monday morning at Brooklyn Center City Hall.
What happened during the protests in Brooklyn Center?
People gathered in Brooklyn Center shortly after news spread of Wright’s death.
Wright’s family and friends were among those who marched in the streets and carried signs and flags that read Black Lives Matter.
About 100 people had gathered near the scene where Wright died, according to the Star-Tribune. Protesters pushed past police tape, confronting officers donning riot gear and breaking the windshields of two police cars. Police fired non-lethal rounds to try to disperse the crowd, the newspaper reported.
At the police department, a large crowd was met with armored police officers who formed a riot line. The protest there had been largely peaceful up until that point.
Police issued dispersal orders and fired tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets into the crowd of around 500 people that had gathered, the Star-Tribune reported.
John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said protesters started throwing rocks and other objects. The group had mostly dispersed by about 1:15 a.m. Monday.
At the Shingle Creek shopping center, about 20 businesses had been broken into, he said. The Star-Tribune reported that looters targeted a Walmart and destroyed several businesses nearby.
Windows of a GameStop and UPS stores were broken Monday morning, and debris was on the ground outside.
The National Guard was activated Sunday, and Elliott ordered a curfew from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Monday. Elliot said he had been in contact with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
“I am closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center. Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement,” Walz tweeted on Sunday.
“Our hearts are with (Wright’s) family, and with all those in our community impacted by this tragedy,” Elliott said in statement. “While we await additional information from the BCA who is leading the investigation, we continue to ask that members of our community gathering do so peacefully, amid our calls for transparency and accountability.”
Elliott tweeted Monday morning that he had spoken with the White House. “I appreciate @POTUS reaching out to offer his administration’s support,” Elliott tweeted.
Brooklyn Center Community Schools’ buildings were closed Monday and classes will be held virtually, Superintendent Dr. Carly Baker said in a statement.
“We are focused on taking steps in the moment. I haven’t entirely processed the tragedy that took place in our community and I’m prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our students, families, staff members and community members,” Baker said.
In Minneapolis, photos shared on social media showed people gathering at the site of George Floyd’s death, which has turned into a memorial, and painting “Justice for Daunte Wright” on the street.
Who was Daunte Wright?
As she spoke with her son during the traffic stop, Katie Wright said she told him to give the phone to officers so she could tell them insurance information, the New York Times reported.
“Then I heard the police officer come to the window and say, ‘Put the phone down and get out of the car,’” she said, according to the Times.
Wright told the Star-Tribune that she heard a scuffle during the call and someone say, “Daunte, don’t run.” The call ended and when she called back, Wright’s girlfriend told his mother that he had been shot, the Star-Tribune reported.
Aubrey Wright told the Washington Post that his son was driving to get a car wash when he was shot.
Wright said he was at the grocery store when his wife called him to tell him that their son had been shot. He told the Post he arrived at the scene within 10 minutes and saw his son’s 2011 Buick LaCrosse partially destroyed and his body on the ground with a sheet over it.
“I know my son. He was scared. He still (had) the mind of a 17-year-old because we babied him,” Wright told the Post. “If he was resisting an arrest, you could Tase him. I don’t understand it.”
Daunte Wright also had a 2-year-old, his father told the newspaper. He said Wright dropped out of high school because of a learning disability but worked various retail and restaurant jobs to support his son.
“He was a great kid,” Wright told the Post. “He was a normal kid. He was never in serious trouble. He enjoyed spending time with his 2-year-old son. He loved his son.”
In a tweet Monday, civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton said he had spoken with Wright’s father and said his group, the National Action Network, “will stand w/ this family and demand justice in this matter.”
On Monday morning in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, crime scene tape remained, but police were not present.
Jennifer Nagel, 38, of Brooklyn Center, was out cleaning up the street. “We have to take care of each other,” Nagel, a teacher and mother of young children, said. “This could’ve been any of those students, my students.”
“This is the wrong time for another Black man to get killed by the police,“ said Des Odoms, 30, whose apartment is near the police station. Odoms said tear gas was fired at his apartment as he watched the protests unfold Sunday.
The shooting comes after at least two other cases in which Brooklyn Center police shot or Tased someone who later died.
In 2019, an autistic man, Kobe Dimock-Heisler, 21, was fatally shot during a scuffle with police. KARE-TV reported officers had first tried to Tase Dimock-Heisler, who grabbed a knife from a couch cushion before police shot him. No charges were filed against the officers in the case.
In 2015, a St. Paul man died days after he was Tasered by a Brooklyn Center police officer and hit his head. The Star-Tribune reported Sinthanouxay Khottavongsa, 57, was holding a crowbar and police responding to a report of a fight told him to drop it before Tasering him. Khottavongsa hit his head as he fell and died from the injuries, the newspaper reported.
Where do things stand in the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis?
Just south of Brooklyn Center in Minneapolis, the third week of testimony in the trial of Chauvin was set to get underway Monday. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25, 2020.
After video of Floyd’s death spread last May, widespread protests erupted for several days in Minneapolis and cities around the U.S.
Contributing: Grace Hauck and N’dea Yancey-Bragg