On Sunday, Apr 11th, a Minneapolis police officer apparently intended to fire a taser, not her handgun, when she fatally shot a black man during a traffic stop in a suburb. According to the city’s police chief, the man put up a struggle with the officers.
The shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright was described by Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon as “an accidental discharge”. Police were trying to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant during the accident. Wright’s death sparked violent protests in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the ongoing trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
The body camera footage of the officer was released at a news conference. The officer can be heard shouting “I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!”. After the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back into his car, the officer draws her weapon.
The officer is heard saying, “Holy shit! I shot him” after firing a single shot from her handgun while the car speeds away.
Officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators on Sunday night. On Monday, President Joe Biden urged calm. The president had seen the body camera footage.
From the Oval Office, President Biden said “We do know that the anger, pain and trauma amidst the black community is real.” However, he then added that “does not justify violence and looting”.
Another dusk-to-dawn curfew was ordered by the governor. There was heavy presence of law enforcement agencies across the Minneapolis area. By Monday night, the number of Minnesota National Guard troops was expected to exceed more than double to over 1,000 personnel.
More than 100 protesters were seen chanting Wright’s name and holding up signs that read “Why did Daunte die?” and “Don’t shoot”. The Brooklyn Centre police station was secured by dozens of officers in riot gear and troops. Black Lives Matter flags were flying from car windows of supporters in passing cars who also sounded their car horns.
Wright’s killing was highlighted by organisers from the Movement for Black Lives, a national coalition of more than 150 black-led political and advocacy groups. The organizers said his death is yet another reason why cities must take up proposals for defunding what they describe is an irreparably broken, racist system.
The coalition’s national field director, Karissa Lewis, said Wright should not have been killed. Lewis continued by saying, ”The fact that police killed him just miles from where they murdered George Floyd last year is a slap in the face to an entire community who continues to grieve.”
The officer’s mistake
Police Chief Gannon released the body camera footage in a press conference less than 24 hours after the shooting. He said that the officer made a mistake.
Three officers were around a stopped car in the footage. The car had expired registration tags when authorities pulled it over. An officer tells Wright he is being arrested on a warrant. A second officer attempts to handcuff Wright. A struggle occurs, and the shooting took place. Wright is seen driving the car several blocks before striking another vehicle.
Gannon said “As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s command, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet.”
“This appears to me from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr Wright.”
Apart from saying the officer is very senior, the Police Chief did not provide further details about her.
During the crash, authorities said a female passenger in the car sustained non-life-threatening injuries. That passenger, according to Katie Wright, was her son’s girlfriend.
The Wright family is hiring Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who represented the family of George Floyd.
13th April 2021 23:00
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