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The family of Daunte Wright on Tuesday dismissed the initial conclusion by police that his fatal shooting by an officer who fired her gun instead of a Taser during a traffic stop was an accident.
“An accident is knocking over a glass of milk,” Jeff Storms, an attorney for Wright’s family, said during a press conference outside Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. “It’s not an accident to pull your gun out of your holster. It’s not an accident to point your gun. It’s not an accident to ignore the fact that what you’re holding doesn’t weigh the same amount as the Taser you’ve used in training hundreds of times.
“So don’t tell us it’s an accident,” Storms said, “because it undermines the tragic loss of life that this family has experienced.”
Police officials in Brooklyn Center, Minn., said that Wright, 20, was pulled over Sunday afternoon for an expired registration when officers noted he also had an object hanging from his rearview mirror.
Wright’s mother told reporters that she received a call from her son telling her that police had pulled him over for having air fresheners dangling from his rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.
When police ran Wright’s name, they discovered he had outstanding warrants and started to take him into custody. When he attempted to get back into his vehicle, one of the officers, Kimberly Potter, shot him.
Potter later said she had meant to fire her Taser at Wright but had accidentally grabbed her revolver instead.
At a press briefing Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon released body camera footage of the incident. In the video, Potter can be heard yelling, “Taser! Taser! Taser!,” before discharging her weapon as Wright drives away. She can then be heard saying, “Oh, shit, I just shot him,” in apparent disbelief.
“This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” Gannon said Monday.
Wright died just 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by police last May, and Wright’s family held Tuesday’s press conference at the same courthouse where former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with Floyd’s murder, is being held.
Outside the courthouse, Wright’s family was joined by members of Floyd’s, who also dismissed the idea that Wright’s death was accidental.
“A so-called mistake? A handgun for a Taser? When is enough enough?” Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said. “Can you blame Daunte for being terrified as a Black man in the custody of police when you just watched here in Minneapolis George Floyd murdered at the hands of the very same police?”
“It is just something I could not fathom,” said Ben Crump, a noted civil rights lawyer and an attorney for both families. "If ever there was a time when nobody in America should be killed by police, it was during this pinnacle trial of Derek Chauvin.”
“We believed with everything in our hearts that police would be on their best behavior, that they would exercise the greatest standard of care, that they would concentrate on deescalation,” Crump said. “But I guess when you’re driving while Black, people sometimes forget memos and initiatives about the realities of life.”
Naisha Wright, Daunte’s aunt, said she watched the video in horror.
“That woman held that gun out in front of her for a long damn time,” she said. “A long damn time!”
She said she hopes Potter is held accountable for her nephew’s death.
“Put her in jail, like they would do any one of us,” Naisha Wright said. “It would be no accident. It would be murder!”
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