Daunte Wright shooting: Protests take place for third night in Minneapolis
Decision to charge police officer over fatal shooting could be taken on Wednesday
Protests took place for a third consecutive night in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center following the shooting of a 20-year-old black man by a police officer on Sunday.
Crowds of demonstrators gathered near the Brooklyn Center police headquarters from early Tuesday evening, holding signs calling for justice for Daunte Wright who was shot dead after he was pulled over by police for an alleged traffic infraction.
Though most of the protesters had left before the 10pm curfew, lines of armed police officers and national guard troops fired tear gas and flash grenades at those who remained, while a military-style truck slowly edged demonstrators north from the heavily-fortified police building.
Fires were lit, and fireworks launched by some of the demonstrators. Others who had come to voice their opposition to a police system that has taken the life of another black man, kneeled on the ground, or held their arms high above their heads in silence. Buildings remained boarded up around the city, and there was a heavy police presence.
The fresh unrest in Minneapolis comes as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck, continues for its third week in the city.
On Tuesday, the police officer who fatally shot Mr Wright, Kim Potter, resigned along with the Brooklyn Center police chief. A decision on whether to charge Ms Potter, a 26 year-veteran of the police force, could be made as early as Wednesday.
Police officials say that Ms Potter mistakenly used her gun instead of a taser when she shot and fatally wounded Mr Wright on Sunday afternoon. The father-of-one was pulled over for driving with expired license plates, and was then questioned about an outstanding court warrant. After he tried to re-enter his car, he was shot by Ms Potter. He drove for a number of blocks, crashed into another vehicle and was found dead at the scene. In a letter released to local media and civic leaders, Ms Potter said she was tendering her resignation immediately.
“I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and to my fellow officers if I resign immediately,” she said.
Mr Wright’s death has been ruled a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, and an investigation is underway.
Mr Wright’s mother, Karen, spoke in emotional terms about her son’s death outside the Hennepin County Court House in Minneapolis yesterday. Describing how he phoned her when he was pulled over by the police on Sunday, she said that was the last time she had heard from her son. “I have had no explanation since then.”
The Wright family is being represented by attorney Ben Crump, the same lawyer representing the family of George Floyd who died last May in the city. Members of Mr Floyd’s family comforted Mr Wright’s family, including his two year-old son, outside the court on Tuesday.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Mr Wright’s father Aubrey said he did not accept the explanation that Ms Potter accidentally shot his son with her gun instead of a taser.
“I cannot accept that. I lost my son. He’s never coming back,” he said. “I can’t accept that ... mistake. That doesn’t even sound right. You know, this officer has been on the force for 26-plus years. I can’t accept that.”
Meanwhile, the defence team is expected to continue its arguments in the Chauvin trial on Wednesday.
The defence team opened its case on Tuesday, calling witnesses to the stand as lawyers for Mr Chauvin seek to prove that the police officer was not responsible for the 46-year-old African-American man’s death.
Among the witnesses called was Scott Creighton, a former Minneapolis police officer. He testified that he stopped a vehicle in which Mr Floyd was a passenger in 2019 and that Mr Floyd was uncooperative. Video was shown of the incident. Separately, a paramedic who treated Mr Floyd that same year testified that he had told her he had taken opioid pills and that his blood pressure was extremely high.
Also on the witness stand was Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert, and 30 year police veteran. He said that Mr Chauvin was “justified” in his arrest of Mr Floyd. “I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis police department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr Floyd,” he said. He also said he believed the victim was able to breathe when he said “I can’t breathe,” as that indicated he could talk.
Mr Brodd previously appeared as a witness in another high profile police violence case when he testified on behalf of Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer who shot 17 year-old Laquan McDonald multiple times. Mr Brodd testified in the 2014 trial that the police officer’s use of force was justified. Ultimately, however, Mr Van Dyke was convicted of murder.
The death of Mr Floyd last year while he was being detained by police sparked global protests about racial injustice. The defendant, Derek Chauvin, was filmed by a passerby pressing his knee on the victim’s neck for almost nine minutes as he stopped breathing.
Mr Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He denies the charges against him.