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Police: Officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright in Minnesota meant to reach for stun gun

Police Shooting Minnesota Brooklyn Center
Posted at 7:41 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 17:15:11-04

The police chief of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota said Monday that he believed 20-year-old Daunte Wright was fatally shot by a police officer when the officer mistakenly reached for her firearm instead of a stun gun.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said the mistake led to an "accidental discharge" of her firearm.

During a press conference Monday, police released body camera footage from the traffic stop that proceeded the shooting. The video shows three officers approach Wright’s car, which Gannon said was prompted by expired tags.

After the initial stop, officers found a warrant out for Wright’s arrest on a “gross misdemeanor” charge. Gannon did not provide additional details on the warrant.

Warning: This video contains images of a fatal police shooting.

Three police officers then returned to Wright’s car and attempted to take him into custody. A struggle ensued as Wright tried to get back in his car. That's when one officer yelled “Taser” several times before firing a weapon.

“I just shot him,” the officer said as Wright drove away.

Wright’s car traveled a few hundred feet before colliding with another vehicle. Gannon said police tried to administer aid, but Wright was later pronounced dead.

Officials did not release the name of the officer who discharged her weapon at Monday’s press conference. Gannon said she has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called for the officer’s dismissal, saying he “fully supports releasing the officer who fired the fatal shot of her duties.”

However, Gannon and Brooklyn Center City Manager Curt Boganey said the officer would receive “due process” before a decision would be made regarding her employment.

On Sunday evening, local media outlets reported that protesters gathered near the Brooklyn Center police station Sunday evening, where demonstrations grew violent. Outlets estimate that between 100 and 500 people gathered near the building.

KMSP-TV in Minneapolis reports that the crowd “advanced towards a line of officers wearing riot gear” while others climbed on police vehicles. WCCO-TV reports that officers later fired tear gas in the hopes of dispersing the crowd. The Star Tribune added police used flash bangs and rubber bullets in the hopes of dispersing the crowd.

The Star Tribune reports that looting at nearby businesses was “widespread” on Sunday evening. A Foot Locker store, a T-Mobile store and a local menswear store were among those damaged and looted.

The Star Tribune reported that the National Guard was among the law enforcement agencies that repsonded to the unrest.

At around midnight local time, Elliott ordered a curfew in the city that would remain in effect until 6 a.m. local time.

“Our entire community is filled with grief following today’s officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20 year old young man. Our hearts are with his family, and with all those in our community impacted by this tragedy,” Elliott said in a 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.”

Gannon said Monday that two people were arrested in connection with Sunday night's riots.

The unrest comes as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is set to resume Monday, about 10 miles away in the Hennepin County Courthouse.

Prior to Monday's proceedings, Chauvin's defense team requested that jurors be sequestered for the remainder of the trial. Judge Peter Cahill denied that request.

Currently, jurors are only partially sequestered — they can return home, but have been told to avoid reading or watching coverage of the case. The jury will be fully sequestered once deliberations begin.

Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd.

Floyd’s death and bystander video of the incident that showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck sparked widespread unrest in Minneapolis and across the country early last summer. In preparation for Chauvin’s trial earlier this year, lawmakers approved millions of dollars in funding for increased security in the city, including help from the National Guard, in the event tensions boiled over.

In comments from the Oval Office Monday, President Joe Biden said that his "heart goes out" to Wright's family, and that an investigation would bear out the facts as to whether the shooting was "accidental or intentional." He also called for future protests to remain peaceful, adding that there was no justification for violence or looting.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about the shooting in the briefing room on Monday, said the Biden administration is "incredibly saddened" by the fatal shooting.

Psaki added that the White House is in touch with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, the mayor and law enforcement agencies.