Daunte Wright shooting: Officer grabbed gun instead of taser, bodycam video released
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (FOX 9) - The police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Sunday mistakenly drew her handgun instead of a Taser, according to the police chief.
Officials released the body camera video of the incident Monday during a news conference. On body camera video, the officer is heard shouting "taser, taser!" but was holding her handgun instead of a Taser. She then fired a single shot.
A photo of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old who was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn Center April 11. (Dallas Wright)
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon called it an "accidental discharge." He said the female officer appeared to be intending to deploy her Taser, but instead pulled out her handgun and fired a shot, killing Wright. Gannon said he was not aware of any weapon found in Wright's car.
Daunte Wright shooting: Live coverage
Updates on the police shooting of Daunte Wright and the community response, including vigils, rallies and protests, are on FOX 9 and streaming at fox9.com/live.
Why was Daunte Wright stopped by police?
The incident started shortly before 2 p.m. on the 6300 block of Orchard Avenue. Officers stopped the vehicle for expired tabs. Once police learned the driver, Wright, had a warrant for a gross misdemeanor, they tried to arrest him, but he got back into his vehicle. At that point, the officer fired her gun, hitting Wright, who then drove several blocks before crashing into another car.
Wright was pronounced dead at the scene. A woman in the car was hurt in the crash, but is expected to survive.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the deadly shooting. Additionally, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman stated that any charging decision will be handled by the Washington County Attorney's Office.
Gannon said it was his decision to release the body camera video right away, which the BCA does not condone.
"I felt the community needed to know what happened," the chief said. "They needed to see it. I needed to be transparent and I wanted to be forthright and give respect to Daunte as well."
Mayor Mike Elliot supports termination of officer
The officer who fatally shot Wright has not been formally identified, but the chief said she is a senior officer on the force. The officer is currently on administrative leave.
Mayor Mike Elliot said he supports firing the officer who shot Wright. Elliot said the city manager has control over the police department, not the mayor, but that the city council can take action as well.
Curfew imposed for Twin Cities metro
Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka counties are under a curfew from 7 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday following Sunday night's unrest.
Law enforcement officials said said residents can expect to see increased patrols. The Minnesota National Guard, which already had hundreds of Guardsmen activated for the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial, expects to have around 1,000 soldiers on the ground in the Twin Cities before the end of the day on Monday.
Protesters started gathering at the scene of the deadly shooting just minutes after it happened Sunday, leading to some tense moments. Some protesters even damaged squad cars.
As police left the scene around 8 p.m., protesters followed them to the Brooklyn Center Police Department, where protests continued. At one point, hundreds of people closed in on the building. Police used tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Protests escalated into looting of businesses along Shingle Creek Parkway and spilling over into Lake Street in Minneapolis. In neighboring Brooklyn Park, the police headquarters was shot at, although no one was injured.
Gov. Tim Walz offered condolences to the family of Daunte Wright and noted its timing during the Chauvin trial. After Floyd's death sparked protests and violence last summer, the governor made extra calls for peace as well as reform.
"As the world’s watching during the trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, emotions and trauma are high in our state," he said.
"We can either come together to fix this or we can suffer together as fools," he said.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called the Brooklyn Center officer's action "a careless and tragic mistake in a profession where that just can't happen."
"We are united," Frey said. "This anguish cannot translate into violence."