Minneapolis Gov. Walz Tells Protesters: Exploit This Tragedy and You Will Be Arrested Minnesota Governor Tim Walz speaks to the press on June 3, 2020 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
By Solange Reyner | Monday, 12 April 2021 08:25 PM
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Monday warned protesters to refrain from violence and looting after a police officer fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb. The officer apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday.
“For those that choose to go out … to exploit these tragedies for destruction or personal gain, you can rest assured the largest police presence in Minnesota history will be prepared,” Walz said in an afternoon press conference in Minneapolis. “You will be arrested and you will be charged and there’s consequences. It’s not debatable. You’re not making the case. You’re hurting the case. You’re undermining the grief and you hear it from families time and time again.
“Don’t you dare step into our space when we’re trying to enact change,” he added.
The shooting sparked violent protests in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the trial of the first four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
"I'll Tase you! I'll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!" the officer is heard shouting on her body cam footage released at a news conference. She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.
After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away, and the officer is heard saying, "Holy (expletive)! I shot him."
President Joe Biden urged calm on Monday, following a night where officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators. The president said he watched the body camera footage.
"We do know that the anger, pain and trauma amidst the Black community is real," Biden said from the Oval Office. But, he added, that "does not justify violence and looting."
Walz imposed a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in Hennepin, Ramsey, and Anoka counties, which encompass Minneapolis and St. Paul, the state’s capital, as well as the suburbs surrounding the area where 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot by a Brooklyn Center police officer.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said at a news conference that the officer made a mistake, and he released the body camera footage less than 24 hours after the shooting.
"As I watch the video and listen to the officer's command, 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 viewed and the officer's reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright."