Minnesota officer meant to fire Taser, not handgun, in deadly Daunte Wright shooting, police chief says

A police chief in Brooklyn Center outside of Minneapolis released the body camera footage Monday showing the officer-involved shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, categorizing the event as an “accidental discharge.”

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said he believed the so far unidentified officer intended to reach for a Taser but mistakenly grabbed her service weapon and deployed a single bullet. Both the chief and Mayor Mike Elliott declined to release the officer’s name at this time but said the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension should be releasing information about all involved parties soon.

At least 500 Minnesota National Guard personnel were activated across the Twin Cities on Monday in support of Operation Safety Net during the trial for Derek Chauvin – a number that’s expected to increase following Sunday’s fatal police shooting in Brooklyn Center.

DEADLY MINNESOTA POLICE SHOOTING SPARKS UNREST; COP CARS DAMAGED

The murder trial for Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd‘s death, continues for the third week Monday, and Operation Safety Net was already scheduled to increase into Phase 3 ahead of closing arguments and jury deliberation. But that plan was expedited in order to quell what devolved into violent demonstrations over the shooting of Wright earlier Sunday.

The Minneapolis area erupted in looting and riots late Sunday after the unidentified officer fatally shot Wright during a traffic stop just 10 miles from where Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the pavement last May. A citywide curfew was issued by Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott until 6 a.m. CT Monday.

About 500 people had gathered overnight outside of a police precinct in the city and clashed with officers.

“Our entire community is filled with grief following today’s officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20 year old young man. Our hearts are with his family, and with all those in our community impacted by this tragedy,” Elliott said in a statement. “While we await additional information from the BCA [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] who is leading the investigation, we continue to ask that members of our community gathering do so peacefully, amid our calls for transparency and accountability.”

Elliott addressed those in the community “filled with grief” in a statement published at 2 a.m. CT stating that the mayor would continue to support “peaceful gatherings.” A news conference is scheduled at Brooklyn Center City Hall at 11 a.m. CT Monday to provide more information, he said.

Operation Safety Net leaders will provide a public safety update at 2 p.m. CT Monday.

In a tweet, he said, “We want to make sure everyone is safe. Please be safe and please go home.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted he was “closely monitoring the situation” and “praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”

Brooklyn Center Police did not immediately identify Wright or disclose his race, but some demonstrators who gathered near the scene waved flags and signs reading “Black Lives Matter.” On one street, written in multicolored chalk, it read: “Justice for Daunte Wright.”

In a statement, Brooklyn Center Police said that officers had stopped an individual shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday. After determining the driver had an outstanding warrant, police tried to arrest him. But the driver reentered the vehicle and drove away, police said. An officer fired at the vehicle, striking the driver. Police said the vehicle traveled several blocks before crashing into another vehicle. A female passenger sustained nonlife-threatening injuries.

Speaking at a press conference, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington detailed how demonstrators gathered shortly after the shooting and crash, with some jumping on top of police cars and confronting officers. Marchers also descended upon the Brooklyn Center Police Department building where rocks and other objects were thrown at officers, he said.

The demonstrators had largely dispersed by 1:15 a.m. Monday. Harrington added that about 20 businesses had been broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping center. He said law enforcement agencies were coordinating to tame the unrest, and the National Guard was activated. 

Video shared by journalist Andy Ngo shows BLM protesters rioting over what he described as the police-involved shooting of a suspected gang member. 

Demonstrators on Sunday evening walked to the Brooklyn Center police headquarters near North 67th and North Humboldt avenues, where people pushed past police tape and confronted officers in riot gear, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. The group of about 500 protesters was repeatedly ordered to disperse by officers, who then used tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets on the crowd. The police headquarters sign was covered in graffiti and later climbed by demonstrators chanting Wright’s name.

National Guard troops arrived before midnight. The Brooklyn Center Walmart was targeted by looters who also completely destroyed a nearby Foot Locker, T Mobile and a New York men’s clothing store. Looting spilled over into north and south Minneapolis late Sunday into Monday morning as stores in Uptown and along Lake Street were also broken into and emptied.

A police headquarters in another neighboring city of Brooklyn Park was “shot up” around 8 p.m. Sunday, Fox 9 Minneapolis reported. Multiple rounds were fired through the building’s glass front doors with some shots reaching the lobby. No injuries were reported.

The attack resembled what happened during the unrest following Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, when the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd precinct was burned. Protesters at the time piled debris inside the building and set it on fire while chanting Floyd’s name.

Tensions are high in the region as the trial for Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in Floyd’s death, continues into its third week on Monday in Minneapolis. Harrington said more National Guard members would be deployed around the city of Minneapolis and in Brooklyn Center.

Katie Wright, Daunte Wright’s mother, huddled with loved ones near the scene of the shooting in the 6300 block of Orchard Avenue in Brooklyn Center and pleaded for her son’s body to be removed from the street, the Star Tribune reported.

She said her son had called her when he was getting pulled over, and she heard scuffling before the call ended. When she called back, she said his girlfriend told her Daunte Wright had been shot.

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Carolyn Hanson lives near the crash scene and told the newspaper that she saw officers pull the man out of the car and perform CPR. Hanson said a passenger who got out was covered in blood.

The Brooklyn Center Police Department said it asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate. Brooklyn Center officers wear body-worn cameras, and dash cameras are believed to have been activated during the incident, police said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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