Daunte Wright Killed by Minnesota Police After Being Pulled Over for a Traffic Stop

When protesters approached the police precinct on Sunday night, police reportedly responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.
April 12, 2021, 2:10pm
Protesters outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department on April 11, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota after the killing of Daunte Wright. Photo: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE /MediaPunch /IPX
Protesters outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department on April 11, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota after the killing of Daunte Wright. Photo: Chris Tuite/ImageSPACE /MediaPunch /IPX

A cop in a Twin Cities suburb shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday, setting off protests and the subsequent deployment of the Minnesota National Guard during the emotional trial of former cop Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last year.

On Monday afternoon, law enforcement officials showed police bodycam footage of the incident, and said at a press conference that Wright’s shooting was likely the result of an “accidental discharge.”

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Police initially said that Wright was pulled over for a “traffic violation,” but said Monday that he was pulled over because of an expired registration. After stopping him, police officers found he had an outstanding warrant. In the bodycam video, officers can be seen pulling Wright out of his car, after which he climbs back into the driver’s seat. An officer can be heard yelling “Taser, Taser, Taser,” before firing her pistol into the car. The officer then says, “Holy shit, I just shot him.”

“As I watch the video and listen to the officer's commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," said Tim Gannon, the police chief for Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis where Wright was shot. 

The name of the officer who shot Wright has not been released.

Kate Wright, the mother of Daunte Wright, told media that he called her as the stop was happening, and told her he was pulled over because air fresheners were hanging from his rearview mirror. 

After he was shot, Wright drove away and traveled multiple blocks before hitting another car. A woman who was with Wright suffered non-life threatening injuries during the accident, and was taken to a local hospital, according to police. Wright’s girlfriend was in the car at the time of the stop, according to his mother.

After the shooting, protesters gathered near police headquarters in Brooklyn Center. The suburb is less than 15 minutes’ drive from the Hennepin County Government Building in Minneapolis, where Derek Chauvin’s murder trial in the death of George Floyd is ongoing. The trial resumed Monday morning.

On Sunday night, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott issued a curfew through 6 a.m. local time Monday morning. 

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Police reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who gathered near a police station, and unrest lasted late into the night. 

The chemical agents reportedly reached the apartment buildings across the street from the precinct. “We had to shut the doors because it was all in my house,” Tasha Nethercutt, a resident of one of the apartments, told the New York Times. 

A Walmart and a nearby shopping mall were looted, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota State Patrol, and the Guard arrived shortly before midnight, according to the outlet. 

Walz said in a tweet late Sunday night that he and his wife were “praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”

“I know my son. He was scared. He still [had] the mind of a 17-year-old because we babied him,” Daunte Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, told the Washington Post. “If he was resisting an arrest, you could Tase him. I don’t understand it.”

Update: The headline for this article has been updated to reflect that Daunte Wright was killed during a traffic stop.