Daunte Wright has been identified as the 20-year-old unarmed Black Minnesota man who was killed by police in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday, April 11, 2021. Body camera video released on Monday showed the officer shot Wright when she thought she was using her Taser. The officer has been identified as Officer Kim Potter.
Wright was pulled over by officers in Brooklyn Center just before 2 p.m. according to a press release from the police department. During the traffic stop, police said Wright began to drive away and Potter opened fire, striking him. Wright drove another several blocks before crashing, police said.
The video shows Potter telling Wright she would “tase” him and then yelling, “Taser, Taser, Taser,” while Wright was trying to get back into his car to drive away. She then fires her gun and backs away, reacting with surprise and saying, “holy shit, I just shot him.” Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said at a press conference he believes Potter mistakenly fired her gun thinking she was using her Taser. Wright was shot once.
Potter was placed on administrative leave, Gannon said. He said she is a “very senior officer.” She has been an officer for 26 years and is the local police union’s president. Read more about her here. She has since resigned.
“This appears to me, from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge,” Gannon said at the press conference. The body cam video can be watched below at the 51:50 mark. The video is graphic and unedited:
Gannon added, “It appears to me this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.” Gannon said officers are trained to keep their Taser on the side of the non-dominant-hand side of their belt, and their gun on their dominant side. Gannon has also resigned from the police department.
According to police, Wright was pronounced dead at the scene after officers and responding medical personnel attempted life-saving measures. A woman was in the passenger seat of Wright’s car and she suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the crash. She was taken to a local hospital, police said. Wright was identified as the victim by his mother, Katie Wright, who spoke to media at the scene of the crash, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. According to Wright’s mother, her son’s body had been in the street for several hours.
The shooting sparked protests Sunday night in Brooklyn Center. Many protesters came to the city from Saint Paul, where a vigil celebrating the birthday of Justin Teigen was taking place. Teigen, 24, was found dead in 2009 after a traffic stop. His family says he was killed by officers and thrown into trash, while police say he died after running from police and hiding in a dumpster, according to Fox 9. Wright’s death also comes as the third week of the Derek Chauvin trial is set to begin on Monday. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, is facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd.
The Brooklyn Center Police Department said it has asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to “conduct an independent investigation of the incident.” According to Brooklyn Center Police, “Brooklyn Center officers wear body-worn cameras. We believe both body-worn cameras and dash cameras were activated during this incident.” The video footage from the body cam was released Monday. Witnesses at the scene told reporters part of the incident was possibly captured on Facebook Live, but no footage had surfaced on social media as of Sunday night.
Police did not release any other details and said more information would be provided by the BCA as the investigation unfolds. The BCA is a state-level law enforcement agency that also investigated Floyd’s murder, as well as other police-involved deaths, including the shootings of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis, Philando Castile in St. Anthony and Justine Damond in Minneapolis.
Here’s what you need to know about the shooting of Daunte Wright:
1. Wright Was Pulled Over for Expired Registration Tags & Warned About an Air Freshener on His Rearview Mirror Before Officers Learned He Had a Warrant for His Arrest Because of a Missed Court Date, Police Say
According to Brooklyn Center Police, the stop for a traffic violation occurred Sunday afternoon in the 6300 block of Orchard Avenue. “Officers determined that the driver of the vehicle had an outstanding warrant. Court documents show Wright had a warrant for missing a Zoom court hearing in a misdemeanor case. At one point as officers were attempting to take the driver into custody, the driver re-entered the vehicle. One officer discharged their firearm, striking the driver. The vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle,” police said in the press release
Police said in the statement that the officers who had been in pursuit and responding medical personnel “attempted life-saving measures, but the person died at the scene.” He has since been identified as Wright. The crash occurred at the intersection of Kathrene Drive & 63rd Ave North in Brooklyn Center. According to police, the occupants in the car struck during the crash were not injured.
Wright’s family said the traffic violation that led to the stop was an air freshener that was hanging from the rearview mirror of his mother’s car, which he was driving, Minnesota Public Radio reporter Nina Moini said on Twitter. Police said on Monday that Wright was initially stopped for expired registration tags and the officer then saw something hanging illegally from a rearview mirror and he was warned about that as well.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, drivers are not allowed to hang air fresheners or anything else from the rearview mirror because it could block the driver’s view.
“Minnesota law prohibits any objects suspended between the driver and the windshield other than: sun visors, rearview mirrors, global positioning systems or navigation systems when mounted or located near the bottommost portion of the windshield; and electronic toll collection devices,” Minnesota State Patrol Sergeant Jesse Grabow wrote in the Crookston Times.
The BCA tweeted Sunday night, “BCA agents and crime scene personnel are en route to an officer involved shooting incident in Brooklyn Center. More information to come.”
2. Wright’s Family Say He Was the Father of an Almost 2-Year-Old Son & He ‘Just Made Everyone Happy’
Wright’s family said at the scene that he was the father of a son, Daunte Wright Jr., who will turn 2 in July, Star Tribune reporter Kim Hyatt tweeted.
A GoFundMe has been set up by his family. His aunt, Kelly Bryant, wrote on the GoFundMe campaign page, “Daunte was tragically shot and killed by Minneapolis police on a traffic stop. I am Daunte’s aunt Kelly and I set up this page to take the burden off my sister Katie Wright and brother in law Aubrey Wright as they are grieving the loss of their 20 year old son.”
Bryant added, “Please donate to give Daunte the proper burial he deserves and to help his son and son’s mother Chyna. And if you can’t support us financially, please send lots of prayers for our family to get through this tragic loss. Thank you and God bless.”
Wright’s sister said on a YouTube livestream by independent 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.”
Protesters gathered at the scene of Wright’s death Sunday night, according to the Star Tribune. Wright’s mother asked the crowd to remain peaceful. Officers from Brooklyn Center and other departments arrived at the scene in body armor, riot gear and with masks and shields, and deployed less-than-lethal rounds on some in the crowd, according to photos and videos from the scene.
The protesters later moved to the Brooklyn Center Police Department headquarters.
3. Wright’s Mother Says She Was on the Phone With Him During the Traffic Stop
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters, “All he did was have air fresheners in his car and they told him to get out of the car and his girlfriend said they shot him. He got back in the car and drove away and he crashed. And now he’s dead on the ground. … Nobody will tell us anything, nobody will talk to us. The BCA just says that they are investigating it. I asked them to please take my son off the ground.” His family told reporters Daunte Wright was driving to a car wash when he was pulled over.
Katie Wright Wright told reporters she was on the phone with her son before he was shot, according to WCCO. She said he called her and said, “Mom, I’m getting pulled over. … They’re asking about insurance.” Katie Wright 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’ll explain to you when you get out of the car.’ Then I heard the phone get either put on the dashboard or dropped and I heard scuffling and I heard the police officer saying, ‘Daunte, don’t run,’ and then the other officer said, ‘Put the phone down,’ and hung it up. And then like a minute later I called and his girlfriend answered, which was the passenger in the car and said he had been shot and she put it on the driver side and my son was laying their lifeless.”
A woman who lives near the scene, Carolyn Hanson, told the Star Tribune she saw officers pull a man out of a car and begin CPR. She said the passenger who got out of the car was covered in blood, according to the newspaper.
According to WCCO, Katie Wright said, “I just want people to know that if you get pulled over, make sure you put your hands up and don’t make any sudden moves, and don’t have air fresheners in your car because that’s why he got pulled over. And he was only 20 years old and he didn’t deserve to be shot and killed like this. And I don’t want all of this, all of this. I just want my baby home. That’s all I want is I want him to be home. I don’t want everybody out here chanting and screaming, yelling, I just want him home, that’s it.”
4. Wright Was Originally From Chicago & Lived in Minneapolis
According to multiple Facebook pages Daunte Wright used over his 20-year life, the Minneapolis resident was born in Chicago and moved to Minnesota when he was young. He said he attended both Edison High School and Blaine High School.
Friends tagged his most recent page, where he used the name Fammo Gamble, after his death. One friend wrote, “@ Fammo Gamble nooooo😭😭😭nooooo I hate this 🥺” Another wrote, “Rip Daunte Wright Fammo Gamble ❤️🙏🏼” He wrote in his Facebook profile, “Hustle now ball later.”
Wright’s aunt wrote on Facebook, “My nephew fly high I love you!!! Black life’s matter. U didn’t deserve this.” A relative wrote, “SAY HIS NAME! DAUNTE WRIGHT! MY GREAT NEPHEW IS NOW FATHERLESS ALL DUE TO AIR FRESHNERS IN HIS FATHER’S WINDOW! Yall POLICE ARE HEARTLESS.”
Another family member wrote on Facebook, “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”
Wright shared videos and posts about George Floyd after his death in May 2020, according to his Facebook profile.
In June 2020, Wright paid tribute to his father, Aubrey Wright, writing on Facebook, “Happy Father’s Day to the best dad I could ask for‼️ thanks for raising me the way you did you showed me right from wrong it was in my hands to follow you and your guidance I know it was hard raising a knucklehead I just want to thank you for being the best dad you can and thanks for always being in my life when some kids didn’t have a dad n I wanna really thank you for showing me how to be a dad you never left when times got hard even when times are hard now you always the one we count on and look up too love ya pops.”
5. The Mayor of Brooklyn Center Said the Shooting ‘Is Tragic’ & Minnesota’s Governor Said the ‘State Mourns Another Life of a Black Man Taken by Law Enforcement’
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott tweeted, “The officer shooting in Brooklyn Center today is tragic. We are asking the protesters to continue to be peaceful and that peaceful protesters are not dealt with with force.”
Brooklyn Center is a city of about 30,000 people in Hennepin County. It is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River along the northwest border of Minneapolis. The street where Wright died is about 12 miles north of where George Floyd was killed.
Lisa Clemons, a Minneapolis-based activist with A Mother’s Love, told WCCO, “We’re already a trial with George Floyd, so we have another police-involved shooting, and earlier today over north we had a carjacking with guns, and I just think that we’re at a breaking point as a people. We hope to calm our community, we hope to let them express their pain in whatever way they want, but just not in violence.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted, “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.”
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