Police say officer meant to use Taser, not gun in fatal Minnesota shooting

Protesters clash with police near the site where a family said a man was shot and killed by local law enforcement, Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)
Protesters clash with police near the site where a family said a man was shot and killed by local law enforcement, Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

Civil unrest erupted after death of Daunte Wright.

Posted: Apr 12, 2021 12:37 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2021 2:30 PM

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (AP) — 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, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting death Sunday of 20-year-old Daunte Wright as “an accidental discharge.” It happened as police were trying to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant. The shooting sparked violent protests in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.


Police respond to the scene near the site where a family said a man was shot and killed by local law enforcement, Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

“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.”

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, which authorities said was pulled over because it had expired registration tags. When another officer attempts to handcuff Wright, a second officer tells Wright he's being arrested on a warrant. That's when the struggle begins, followed by the shooting. Then the car travels several blocks before striking another vehicle.

“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.”

A female passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the crash, authorities said. Katie Wright said that passenger was her son’s girlfriend.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was investigating.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said any decision on charges against the officer will be made by the Washington County attorney under an agreement adopted last year by several county prosecutors aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest. Freeman has been frequently criticized by activists in Minneapolis over his charging decisions involving deadly use of force by police.

Gannon would not name the officer or provide any other details about her, including her race, other than describing 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.

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.”

Wright's mother, 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.

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.

Wright's family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family in its $27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis.

“This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane,” Crump said in a statement. “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color?”

Speaking before the unrest Sunday night, Wright’s mother urged protesters in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis, to stay peaceful and focused on the loss of her son.

Biden referred to her comments on Monday, saying "we should listen to Daunte’s mom calling for peace and calm.” The president said he had not yet called the family but that his prayers were with them.

Shortly after the shooting, demonstrators began to gather, with some jumping atop police cars. Marchers also descended on the Brooklyn Center Police Department, where rocks and other objects were thrown at officers, authorities said.

About 20 businesses were broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping center, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said at a news conference.

National Guard troops and law enforcement officers continued to guard the front of the police department on Monday morning. Police were erecting a concrete barrier as Minnesota State Patrol officers joined the line in front of the precinct.

Several people and reporters watched from across the street as traffic returned to normal on the street where protesters were met with tear gas the night before. One man yelled at the officers using a megaphone as others flew Black Lives Matter flags.

More National Guard members and state law enforcement personnel were to be deployed around the Twin Cities and in Brooklyn Center in addition to teams already in place for Chauvin’s trial at the Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis, Harrington said.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in Floyd’s death, continued Monday. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck. Prosecutors say Floyd was pinned for 9 minutes, 29 seconds. The judge in that case refused Monday to sequester the jury after a defense attorney argued that the panel could be influenced by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 591445

Reported Deaths: 7367
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1224421730
Ramsey51212875
Dakota45791452
Anoka41604438
Washington26834283
Stearns22196222
St. Louis17734303
Scott17244124
Wright16009139
Olmsted1322598
Sherburne1167187
Carver1047545
Clay814492
Rice8037107
Blue Earth749641
Crow Wing663189
Kandiyohi654283
Chisago596651
Otter Tail574078
Benton568297
Goodhue477272
Douglas466375
Mower464832
Winona453950
Itasca435556
McLeod422559
Isanti419664
Morrison418260
Nobles407648
Beltrami394459
Steele386715
Polk383568
Becker379751
Lyon360251
Carlton345054
Freeborn341529
Pine327822
Nicollet325643
Brown305040
Mille Lacs303253
Le Sueur290922
Todd281632
Cass271328
Meeker255740
Waseca235922
Martin230531
Roseau209019
Wabasha20513
Hubbard188341
Dodge18453
Renville179743
Redwood174037
Houston171616
Cottonwood164821
Fillmore155910
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Chippewa152138
Faribault152119
Kanabec144326
Sibley143110
Aitkin134736
Watonwan13219
Rock128119
Jackson121712
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11006
Murray10619
Swift105218
Stevens90411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86616
Koochiching82715
Wilkin81112
Lake80919
Lac qui Parle75222
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5748
Mahnomen5469
Norman5399
Unassigned48993
Kittson48622
Red Lake3957
Traverse3695
Lake of the Woods3243
Cook1620

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 366827

Reported Deaths: 5937
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57596625
Linn20845335
Scott20025241
Black Hawk15803308
Woodbury15128228
Johnson1447483
Dubuque13368208
Dallas1117898
Pottawattamie11113168
Story1061248
Warren577088
Clinton555593
Cerro Gordo539789
Sioux514474
Webster512393
Marshall482975
Muscatine480799
Des Moines455766
Wapello4299122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418872
Plymouth401180
Lee375755
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291637
Carroll285752
Bremer284360
Crawford266440
Boone264534
Benton256455
Washington254150
Dickinson248343
Mahaska230351
Jackson221742
Clay215525
Kossuth215364
Delaware209541
Tama209571
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan191232
Cedar190023
Hardin185243
Fayette185041
Wright184637
Hamilton179849
Harrison179573
Clayton169456
Butler164934
Mills162322
Madison162219
Floyd160542
Cherokee158738
Lyon157941
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151551
Iowa148724
Hancock147834
Winnebago142431
Cass138554
Calhoun138413
Grundy136333
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128049
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124015
Guthrie121530
Franklin120021
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112723
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9710
Keokuk95831
Monroe95229
Ida90535
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis82924
Monona82830
Osceola78616
Greene77610
Lucas77323
Worth7478
Taylor65812
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