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Minnesota Police Chief says he thinks officer wanted to catch Taser before shooting black man during traffic stop

A Minnesota police officer wanted to use a Taser, but mistakenly fired a duty revolver before fatally shooting a black man at close range during a traffic stop, authorities said Monday.

The Brooklyn Center Police Department released body camera footage from Sunday afternoon’s meeting that ended in the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

Wright was shot dead in a suburb of Minneapolis, about 14 miles north of where George Floyd was killed last year.

The body camera images appeared to show Wright getting out of his car and then back in before a female voice could be heard shouting “Taser!” before Wright was shot. The officer had intended to draw a Taser, but instead grabbed his gun, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said at a press conference Monday.

“It was an accidental discharge,” Gannon told reporters.

Mayor Mike Elliott has said he wants the officer fired.

“We cannot afford to make mistakes that will result in loss of life,” said Elliott. “I fully support the release of the officer from his post.”

Daunte Wright, who was shot dead by Brooklyn Center police during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021.Courtesy of the Wright family

Wright called her mother, Katie Wright, to inquire about insuring the car, shortly after she was arrested, she told reporters on Sunday.

He had been arrested by police for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota, according to Katie Wright.

“The first details are disturbing,” the United States Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said in a statement. “Wright’s mother told multiple media outlets that she was on the phone with her son when he was arrested for having an air freshener hanging on his car’s rear view mirror. She said they asked her to get out of the car, but they didn’t want to say why. Then she heard scuffles and gunshots. “

“The ACLU-MN is deeply concerned that the police here appear to have used hanging air fresheners as an excuse to make a pretextual arrest, which police do too often to target blacks,” the statement continued. “The warrant appears to be for a non-crime.”

The unrest at the Brooklyn Center came at a particularly difficult time for the Minnesotans, already on the brink of the Chauvin trial attracting so much attention.

The National Guard was mobilized to control a stone-throwing crowd that gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department after dark. Officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas during the unrest.

Chauvin’s defense on Monday asked a judge to sequester the jurors, fearing they would be influenced by the murder of another black man by police.

The request was denied.

MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler said Chauvin’s defense never really expected jurors to be sent to a hotel room during the trial – but instead made the request as police insurance possible after conviction.

Asking “that the jury be sequestered is really a defense … to preserve this issue on appeal,” said Butler.

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