Police Chief: Minnesota Officer Meant to Draw Taser, Not Handgun Minnesota National Guard walk by a bus outside the Brooklyn Center Police Station Monday. (Photo by Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)
MOHAMED IBRAHIM Monday, 12 April 2021 01:22 PM
The police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, the city’s police chief said Monday.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting as “an accidental discharge.” The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was investigating.
“Taser! Taser! Taser!” the officer is heard shouting on her body cam footage released at a news conference. After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away and the officer is heard saying, “Holy [expletive]! I shot him.”
Daunte Wright, 20, died Sunday in a metropolitan area that was already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
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. The footage showed three officers around a stopped car. When another officer attempts to handcuff Wright, a struggle ensues.
Gannon would not name the officer but described her as “very senior.” He would not say whether she would be fired following the investigation.
“I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning," the chief said.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole," he said.
Speaking before the unrest, Wright's mother, Katie Wright, urged protesters to stay peaceful and focused on the loss of her son.
“All the violence, if it keeps going, it’s only going to be about the violence. We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason,” she said to a crowd near the shooting scene in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis. “We need to make sure it’s about him and not about smashing police cars, because that’s not going to bring my son back.”
Protesters who gathered near the scene waved flags and signs reading “Black Lives Matter.” Others walked peacefully with their hands held up. On one street, someone wrote in multi-colored chalk: “Justice for Daunte Wright.”
Katie Wright said her son called her as he was getting pulled over.
“All he did was have air fresheners in the car, and they told him to get out of the car,” Wright said. During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying “Daunte, don’t run” before the call ended. When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and said he had been shot.
Authorities said the car was pulled over for having expired registration and after determining the driver had an outstanding warrant, police said they tried to arrest him. Then the driver reentered the vehicle, and an officer fired, striking him, police said. The vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle.
A female passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the crash, authorities said. Katie Wright said that passenger was her son’s girlfriend.
Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June. In that case, a statement of probable cause said police got a call about a man waving a gun who was later identified as Wright.