Protesters & Minnesota Police Clash After Officer Kills Black Man In Traffic Stop

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Wright’s mom said he told her he was pulled over for having an air freshener hanging from his mirror

A police officer shot and killed a Black man after he was pulled over in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Sunday afternoon, authorities said, just 15 minutes from where trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with murdering George Floyd, is being held.

The incident happened around 2 p.m. when officers initiated a traffic stop. During the stop, the officers determined that the driver, 20-year old and father, Daunte Wright, had an outstanding warrant, according to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.

“At one point as officers were attempting to take the driver into custody, the driver re-entered the vehicle,” Gannon said in a statement. “One officer discharged their firearm, striking the driver.” Wright’s car traveled several blocks before crashing into another vehicle. Wright’s girlfriend was a passenger in his car.

“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,” Minnesota journalist Nina Moini wrote on Twitter.

Officers and medical personnel “attempted life saving measures” on Wright, “but the person died at the scene.”

The Brooklyn Center police chief later claimed during a press conference that the officer who shot and killed Wright pulled the wrong weapon and ended up killing the man instead of stunning him with a Taser. Gannon played a clip of the police camera footage where the officer can be heard shouting “Taser! Taser! Taser!” alerting fellow officers to what he said she believed to be her stun gun. She drew her handgun instead.

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said she was on the phone with him before he was killed. “I heard scuffling and I heard the police officers say, ‘Daunte, don’t run.’ And then the other officer said, ‘Put the phone down,’ and hung it up,” Wright told reporters on Sunday. “And a minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered — that was the passenger — and said that he’d been shot, and she put [the phone] on the driver’s side and my son was laying there lifeless.”

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott issued a statement on Twitter, saying in part, “Our entire community is filled with grief following today’s officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20 year old young man…We continue to ask that members of our community gathering do so peacefully, amid our calls for transparency and accountability.”

In a statement to ABC News, Wright’s family described him as a young father who “had a whole life ahead of him. We just want people to know Daunte was a good kid,” Wright’s family said in a statement to ABC News. “He loved being a father to Daunte Jr.”

Elliott ordered a curfew until 6 a.m. this morning, and the local school superintendent moved to remote learning on Monday “out of an abundance of caution,” after crowds protesting Wright’s shooting gathered in the evening hours.

The Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union called in a statement for an “immediate, transparent and independent investigation by an outside agency,” and for the quick release of any body-cam footage. They added they have “deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target Black people.”

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