In Brooklyn Center, a suburb outside of Minneapolis, police shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. Brooklyn Center is located just a few miles North of where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is standing trial for murder.
Early citizen reporting by protestors and commissioned writing for the New York Times say Wright was allegedly pulled over for having air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror. A release date for body cam footage has not been identified at this time. But Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said he believed the officer’s body camera had been activated at the time of the shooting. After Wright had been asked to step out of the vehicle, police allegedly learned he had an outstanding warrant.
The next moments will be the focus of intense scrutiny by both the public and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the law enforcement bureau that led the investigation of George Floyd’s murder. The police chief released the following:
BCA investigates, Mayor of Brooklyn Center calls for peaceful protest
“At one point as officers were attempting to take the driver into custody, the driver re-entered the vehicle,” Gannon said in a statement Sunday. “One officer discharged their firearm, striking the driver.” Wright was unarmed. Gannon has reportedly requested the BCA investigate the matter.
Wright’s vehicle then traveled several blocks before crashing into another vehicle. Wright was found dead at the scene. His girlfriend was a passenger in the vehicle at the time. She is reportedly physically uninjured.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot said in a statement released on Twitter: “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.” He continued the statement in several tweets, also calling for “protesters to continue to be peaceful and that peaceful protesters are not dealt with with force” (by law enforcement).
Daunte Wright called his mom before police shot him
Katie Wright identified herself as Daunte Wright’s mother. She said Wright was driving the car his family recently gifted him just weeks before. Wright called his mother when he was pulled over. She’s since said she asked Daunte to put an officer on the phone so she could relay the insurance information. The New York Times reports that she was on the phone as he was asked to exit the vehicle. A short time later, she said, someone hung up the phone. And then, she received a call from Wright’s girlfriend saying her son had been shot.
Protests erupted in the streets overnight following the killing. National Guard troops and Minnesota State Police deployed to support law enforcement as protests spread to a Brooklyn Center Mall. Photos and reporting on Twitter show chemical agents and rubber bullets being deployed against protestors. Protestors have reportedly thrown rocks, garbage and other objects at law enforcement.
At one point, officers declared over a speakerphone, “Minnesota Statute 609-715 prohibits the remaining presence in an unlawful assembly… this includes the media.”
Wright’s mother calls for justice and peace
On Twitter, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (D) said “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.”
The New York Times also reported Wright’s mother had called for peace while justice is sought for her son’s death.
“We want justice for Daunte,” she said. “We don’t want it to be about all this violence.”