In what feels like a horrific sense of déjà vu, there has been growing unrest in Minnesota after an unarmed Black man was shot and killed by police over the weekend. During a heated press conference, the chief of the Brooklyn Center Police Department released body camera footage of the incident.
According to the Associated Press, the conference took place less than 24 hours after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon took to the podium and revealed the body camera footage of the shooting. The footage opens with Wright being taken into custody, but he begins to struggle with the officer and gets back inside his car. The officer is heard yelling “taser, taser, taser!” while she has a service revolver in her hands. The officer discharges one shot, and the car takes off with the cop saying “Holy shit, I shot him.”
After playing the video, Gannon called the shooting an “accidental discharge.” Gannon refused to name the officer, nor indicate whether or not the officer would be fired. “I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning,” the chief said.
No, we can’t actually. It’s not like this country has a solid track record of holding cops accountable when their fuckups get someone killed. Not being able to tell the difference between a gun and a taser should be enough to get someone fired, but this is America. What should happen often doesn’t.
Gannon also went on to say that the officer was entitled to due process. Judging by some of the questions, it seemed as though there were community members at the presser. Given that this was a press conference about a young Black man who was violently denied his right to due process, the crowd rightfully chewed Gannon up and pointed out the hypocrisy of his argument, considering what transpired.
According to NBC News, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said that he supported the firing of the officer who shot Wright. “We cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life,” Elliott said during the conference. “I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties.”
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 the 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.
Demonstrators took to the streets on Sunday night to protest Wright’s death. Kate Wright, Daunte’s mother, spoke to the protesters and encouraged them to stay peaceful.
“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,” Wright said to the protesters. “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.”
While there were images of some protesters jumping on police cars and smashing windshields, many of the demonstrators were protesting peacefully. Gannon alleged that some of the protesters were throwing rocks, bricks, and “frozen cans of pop” at officers outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Eventually, the National Guard was called in, Mayor Elliot established a curfew until 6 a.m., and police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Brooklyn Center is only minutes away from Minneapolis, where George Floyd died while in police custody last year. There’s some concern that the shooting, and any potential unrest that might come as a result of it, will have an effect on the jury overseeing the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin—the former police officer accused of killing Floyd.
As of now, the officer responsible for firing the gun is on administrative leave, and the case is being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.