Daunte Wright: Air Freshener Didn’t Trigger Police Stop, Chief Says

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Brooklyn Center police stopped Daunte Wright because of an air freshener hanging in his car, his mother told Minnesota reporters at the scene. Other relatives also claimed that an air freshener triggered the traffic stop.

The officer was named as Kim Potter, the police union president. You can read more about her here.

However, the police chief, in a dramatic news conference in which he played body cam footage, said that Wright was actually stopped for having expired tags on his vehicle. The officer then noted the air freshener, but it wasn’t the reason for the stop. You can watch the body cam video here.

The Chief, Tim Gannon, revealed that the police officer, a female officer who was not yet named, had accidentally shot Wright, erroneously thinking that she was using her taser. He said there was no gun found in Wright’s car. The mayor of Brooklyn Center called for the officer’s resignation. She is on administrative duty.

“As I watch the video and listen 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,” the chief said in the news conference. “This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge.”

He added that “my heart goes out to Daunte’s family.” He called the shooting “heartbreaking and unfathomable” and promised “transparency and accountability.”

Gannon said that Wright was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant. He said that social media rumors that the officer committed suicide are not true.

“He [Duante Wright] called me at about 1:30. He said he was getting pulled over by the police. And I said why you getting pulled over. And he said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror. I said, ‘okay take them down,'” Wright’s mom, Katie Wright, said on the video.

Protests broke out in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, after the police shooting in a state that has had multiple controversial police-related deaths, including George Floyd, Justine Damond and Philando Castile. A former police officer, Derek Chauvin, is on trial in Floyd’s death about 15 minutes from where the Wright police shooting happened.

Many details remain unclear in the Wright shooting, including why the officer opened fire and whether Wright had a weapon of any kind.

The man shot by police was identified by his family as Daunte Wright, 20, a young father.

Here’s what you need to know:

Wright’s Mother Made the Air Freshener Claim, Although Police Have Not Confirmed It

Wright’s mother claimed that he was stopped because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, Minnesota journalist Nina Moini wrote on Twitter, but police have not confirmed that information.

“Family members say 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center this afternoon after being pulled over for displaying an air freshener from his rearview mirror in his mother’s car,” wrote Moini.

It’s against the law in Minnesota to drive with an air freshener hanging from a rearview mirror.


Jasmine Marie wrote, “Why? You were only 20!!! You were such a great cousin. You didn’t deserve this at all. I pray that we get justice for what the POLICE did to you 💔”

KARE 11 reporter Chris Hrapsky wrote, “The mother of Daunte Wright says the 20-year-old called her when he was pulled over by Brooklyn Center police about 1:40 p.m. He told her police pulled him over for air fresheners hanging in the mirror, she told reporters.”

He added, “The mother says her son asked her for car insurance information over the phone, as the car was hers but she gave it to Daunte two weeks prior. She said she heard police tell Daunte to get out of the car and that they would explain why once he was out. The mother says she then heard someone yell ‘Daunte, don’t run.’ This is the story from the mother, told in front of crime scene tape. A blanket wrapped around her shoulders, crying in despair.”

In a video interview, Wright’s mother told reporters: “Then 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 will explain to you when you get out of the car. I heard the phone put on the dashboard or dropped. I heard scuffling and I heard the police officer say Daunte don’t run. Another officer said put the phone down and hung it up.”

His girlfriend was the passenger in the car and said that he had been shot, Hrapsky wrote.

Tim Nelson of Wisconsin Public Radio wrote on Twitter, “Katie Wright says her son, Daunte was killed in Brooklyn Center a shooting involving police. She said he was taking his new car to get it washed when an encounter with police apparently turned fatal Sunday afternoon.”

Wright’s sister told Minnesota media outlet Unicorn Riot, “He was so goofy. He just makes everybody happy. They took my brother away from me. … I’m so hurt, they really just took him. … I still can’t believe it. I’m still feeling like I’m going to go home and see him. It really hurts.”

Authorities Say the Driver Had an Outstanding Warrant & ‘Re-entered the Vehicle’

The name of the officer who shot Wright has not been released. Brooklyn Center police gave some details in a press release.

They wrote that Brooklyn Center Police Department officers “initiated a stop for a traffic violation in the area of the 6300 block of Orchard Ave. in Brooklyn Center shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday.”

Officers determined the driver had an outstanding warrant, according to the press release. “At one point as officers were attempting to take the driver into custody, the driver re-entered the vehicle,” police wrote.

“One officer discharged their firearm, striking the driver. The vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle,” according to the press release.

“Officers in pursuit and responding medical personnel attempted life saving measures,” the press release reported, but Wright died at the scene. Authorities will officially release the victim’s name after a preliminary autopsy and family notification, according to the release.

“A female passenger in the car sustained non-life threatening injuries during the crash” and was transported to a nearby hospital, police wrote. “Occupants of the vehicle that was struck during the crash were not uninjured,” according to the release.

“We believe both body-worn cameras and dash cameras were activated during this incident,” police wrote, although those haven’t been released yet. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension wrote on Twitter that agents were responding to an officer-involved shooting in Brooklyn Center.

GettyPeople stand on a police cruiser as protesters take to the streets after Brooklyn Center police shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. A crowd gathered to confront police as they held a line while investigators searched the scene.

There was no mention of whether the driver had a weapon himself.

The Star Tribune initially reported that a police officer was injured and taken to the hospital, according to dispatch audio, though that information has since been removed from their original article.

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