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Police chief says Daunte Wright shot ‘accidental discharge’

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minnesota – The police officer who killed a man in a suburb of Minneapolis on Sunday did so accidentally, officials said Monday, posting a body camera video that appeared to depict the officer shouting, “Taser!” before firing his weapon.

“I think the officer intended to deploy his Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Brooklyn Center Police Department Chief Tim Gannon said of the shooting on Sunday. of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. “It appears to me from what I saw and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately thereafter, that this was an accidental discharge which resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.

The officer, who has not been publicly identified, has been placed on administrative leave, officials said. Chief Gannon said Mr. Wright was first arrested due to an expired registration on the vehicle he was driving. The video showed a brief struggle between Mr. Wright and police officers before one of the officers fired his gun.

After the officer fires, she is heard on the video saying, “Holy shit. I just shot him.

In the hours following the shooting on Sunday afternoon, protests, violence and looting erupted in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of 30,000 people north of Minneapolis. The shooting comes amid a nationwide toll on police misconduct and police killings of blacks; Mr. Wright was black. City officials did not identify the police officer’s race.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Brooklyn Center mayor Mike Elliott said at a press conference on Monday. “We will do everything in our power to ensure justice is done for Daunte Wright.”

Mr. Elliott requested that the officer who shot Mr. Wright be fired. “My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that result in the death of other people in our profession,” he said. “And so I fully support the release of the officer from her duties.”

The Twin Cities region has been at the forefront for weeks, as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop charged with the murder of George Floyd, is underway in a Minneapolis courtroom within 10 miles from where Mr. Wright was shot.

A curfew has been imposed until early Monday morning, and the Brooklyn Center School District has announced that it will hold classes virtually on Monday.

Mr Elliott said President Biden offered his administration’s support in a phone call Monday; Mr Biden is “saddened to learn of loss of life at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota,” said Jen Psaki, a White House spokeswoman, and is expected to address the shooting publicly later Monday.

Chief Gannon said an officer shot Mr. Wright on Sunday afternoon after stopping his car for a traffic violation and finding he had an arrest warrant for him. As police attempted to detain Mr. Wright, he got back into his car, at which point a police officer shot him dead, Chief Gannon said.

Mr. Wright’s car then traveled several blocks and collided with another vehicle, after which police and medics declared him dead. Chief Gannon gave no information on the severity of the crash, although the passengers in the other car were not injured.

Katie Wright, who identified herself as Mr Wright’s mother, told reporters her son was driving a car his family had just given him two weeks ago and had called her when he got arrested.

“He said they arrested him because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror,” she said. Ms Wright added that her son was driving with his girlfriend when he was shot. Police said a woman in the car was injured in the crash, but her injuries were not life threatening.

John Harrington, the commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said the unrest following Mr. Wright’s death spilled over into a Brooklyn Center mall and people broke into about twenty companies. By midnight most of the protesters had fled the police department, once National Guard troops and Minnesota State Patrol officers arrived to support the police standing around the building with equipment. riot control and batons.

Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that he prayed for Mr. Wright’s family “as our state mourns another life as a black man taken by law enforcement.”

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a state agency that investigates police murders in Minnesota, is investigating.

Brooklyn Center police officials said they had worked for years to diversify the force and improve community relations.

Chief Gannon, a white U.S. Marine Corps veteran, had served the department for 21 years when he was elevated to the first post in 2015.

“I really want the city to understand and know their police service,” Chief Gannon told a community television station at the time.

One of its goals, in addition to reducing the crime rate, he said, was to equip officers with body cameras and make the force more representative of the diverse population of the suburbs.

The Brooklyn Center – the site of the Minneapolis field office for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the birthplace of Hennepin County’s first sheriff – was over 70 percent white as recently as the 2000 census. But its makeup Racial and ethnic background has changed dramatically over the last generation, and the community since 2010 has had a majority minority population, of which only about 44.5% are now white, according to federal statistics. Twenty-nine percent of the population is black, 16 percent is of Asian origin, and 13.5 percent is Latino.

In 2015, Chief Gannon said, he hoped to make the police a reflection of the community.

“If they have these positive interactions,” he said, “then they make contact with agents who are not always at the end of a 911 call.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reported from Brooklyn Center and Julie Bosman from Chicago. Reporting was provided by Azi Paybarah of New York, Matt Furber of Brooklyn Center and Neil Vigdor of Greenwich, Conn.

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