Furious over the fatal shooting of a Black man by a police officer during a traffic stop, demonstrators gathered Monday night to protest outside the police department of a Minneapolis suburb for a second night in a row.
The familiar refrain, “No Justice No Peace,” was heard among the crowd in Brooklyn Center, alongside the din of conflict.
The demonstrations began Sunday, the day 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed in what the police chief described as an accidental shooting following a traffic stop. The officer who shot Wright, identified by authorities as Kim Potter, has been with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She has been placed on administrative leave.
Police fired tear gas and stun guns to disperse Monday night’s demonstrators who were defying a curfew, while protesters threw “bottles, fireworks, bricks and other projectiles at public safety officials,” according to a tweet from Operation Safety Net. The operation is a joint effort of local agencies to ensure public safety during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer facing charges in the death of George Floyd, being held around 10 miles away.
“Go home or you will be arrested. Curfew violation is a misdemeanor,” OSN tweeted.
In addition to dispersing the demonstrators, authorities responded to multiple reports of break-ins and looting.
About 40 arrests were made, Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said during a news conference early Tuesday.
The traffic stop that ended in Wright’s death
Wright was with his girlfriend Sunday afternoon, driving to his older brother’s house, when police pulled him over in Brooklyn Center over an expired tag, police said. Officers learned he had an outstanding warrant and tried to handcuff him while he was standing outside his car, police said.
Wright’s older brother, Damik Bryant, told CNN he texted Wright moments before the shooting, asking what was taking him so long. Wright sent another text saying he was pulled over and asked for insurance information, Bryant said. Bryant told him to call their mother.
Wright gave officers his name before calling his mother, Bryant said.
“They asked him to step out the car, and you know his first instinct was, ‘What did I do, what’s wrong?’ And they were like, ‘Well, put the phone down, get out the car now, we’ll talk to you about it when you get out,'” Bryant said.
“He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror,” Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told CNN affiliate WCCO. “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,'” Katie Wright told CNN affiliate KARE.
“So, I heard the phone get either put on the dashboard or dropped, and I heard scuffling, and I heard the police officers say, ‘Daunte don’t run.’ And then the other officer said, ‘Put the phone down'” before it sounded like the phone was hung up, she said.
Body-worn camera footage released Monday shows Wright standing outside his vehicle with his arms behind his back and an officer directly behind him, trying to handcuff him. An officer tells Wright “don’t,” before Wright twists away and gets back into the driver’s seat of the car.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said it appeared from the video that Wright was trying to leave.
The officer whose camera footage was released is heard warning the man she’s going to use her Taser on him, before repeatedly shouting, “Taser! Taser! Taser!”
Then, the officer is heard screaming, “Holy sh*t! I just shot him.”
The car’s door closes, and Wright drives away. The car crashed several blocks away, police said. Police and medical personnel attempted life-saving measures following the crash, but Wright died at the scene, Gannon said.
Police chief says he believes officer meant to use Taser, not a gun
Gannon said he released the video for the sake of transparency and that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension doesn’t condone the release of video in ongoing investigations.
“I felt the community needed to know what happened. They needed to see it. I needed to be transparent. And I want to be forthright,” Gannon said.
Gannon said the portion of body-worn camera footage released Monday led him to believe the shooting was accidental and that the officer’s actions before the shooting were consistent with the department’s training on Tasers.
“As I watched the video and listened 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,” Gannon said. “This appears to me, from what I’ve viewed and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.”
Gannon said he asked BCA to investigate and present its findings, “independent of me,” to authorities and attorneys to review the case.
The district attorney for Hennepin County said it sent the case to a different county to avoid an “appearance of a conflict of interest.”
The Brooklyn Center City Council, meanwhile, voted 4-1 Monday to dismiss City Manager Curt Boganey, and deputy city manager will assume Boganey’s duties, according to Mayor Mike Elliott.
“They felt that it was a lack of leadership early on, in how things unfolded with the situation.” Eliott told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday night.
‘How do we put life back together after this?’
An attorney for Wright’s family, Ben Crump, called the shooting “entirely preventable” and “inhumane.”
“As Minneapolis and the rest of the country continue to deal with the tragic killing of George Floyd, now we must also mourn the loss of this young man and father,” he said.
For his family, it is difficult to see a way forward without Wright, his aunt Naisha Wright told CNN’s Don Lemon.
Naisha Wright was driving to be with her brother and sister-in-law, Daunte’s parents, Monday night. Starting in Alabama, she spent hours driving to pick up her mother in Tennessee so they could both go to Minneapolis.
Naisha Wright described her nephew as a young man who loved his family and was loved by them, Wright said. His parents have been together over two decades, and raised their son in a strong, loving home, she said.
“How do we put life back together after this?” she asked. “My mother shouldn’t have to be burying her grandchild. My brother and my sister shouldn’t be burying their son.”