Brooklyn Center police officers have killed six civilians since 2012, according to a Star Tribune database of fatal police encounters across the state.
All but one of the victims were men of color; four were Black, including 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who died during a routine traffic stop Sunday afternoon. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon on Monday said it appeared a senior officer meant to deploy her Taser, but instead fired a single fatal shot from her service pistol in what he described as an "accidental discharge." The unnamed officer remains on standard administrative leave.
Over the past two decades in Minnesota, at least 207 people have died in encounters with law enforcement, according to a Star Tribune analysis. Only one officer has been convicted of an on-duty killing in modern state history — and, as police reform advocates frequently point out, that Minneapolis officer was Somali-American and the victim was a white woman.
Wright is the latest victim of a fatal police shooting in the suburb located about 10 miles north of Minneapolis. In 2019, Brooklyn Center officers shot 21-year-old Kobe Dimock-Heisler six times after he lunged at police with a knife during a domestic disturbance call. Dimock-Heisler, who was on the Autism spectrum, wielded a hammer and knife while fighting with his grandparents that day, but was disarmed before police arrived. Officers insisted on entering the house anyway.
His mother, Amity Dimock-Heisler, said police escalated the situation and "ended up putting my son down like an animal."
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman ruled the deadly use of force justified because the officers involved had a "reasonable fear" they were in danger and declined to file charges in the case.
Prior to Dimock-Heisler, Brooklyn Center police logged a fatal encounter with an armed civilian at least once a year between 2012 and 2015. Each case was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner:
Sinthanouxay Khottavongsa, 57, fell and hit head on the ground after Brooklyn Center police officers Tased him twice during a group fight outside a local Pizza Hut on Jan. 16, 2015. He died of his injuries two days later at North Memorial Medical Center. Authorities accused Khottavongsa of "holding a crowbar in a threatening manner," but relatives said he was attempting to defend people in the parking lot.
In December 2014, Johnathon Mar, 18, led police on a high-speed chase throughout the north metro on crashed on Interstate 694 in Shoreview, exited the vehicle and repeatedly stabbed himself before charging at officers with the knife. A Hennepin County sheriff's deputy and Brooklyn Center police officer opened fire. Mar, a high school senior from of Kennewick, Wash., was accused of killing his 23-year-old traveling companion in Maple Grove earlier that day.
Edmond Fair, 24, was pulled over for a traffic violation on Aug. 23, 2013, shortly after leaving a Brooklyn Center motel. Fair had a warrant out for his arrest and told police he didn't want to return to jail. When officers attempted to handcuff him, a struggle ensued and one arresting officer deployed her Taser. At one point, Fair allegedly grabbed the officer's Taser and shocked the police. Her partner shot Fair chest, killing him. A federal judge later threw out a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Fair's family, ruling the officer's actions justified.
Dontaylo Wright, 20, was walking down a residential sidewalk with a rifle on May 31, 2012, and ignored commands to drop the gun. When he raised rifle past his waist, a Brooklyn Center police officer shot him. Witnesses later told police Wright "seemed on a mission," was agitated and muttering to himself.
The amateur rapper and dancer was six days away from his high school graduation ceremony.
Brooklyn Center PD has racked up seven police misconduct payouts totaling about $490,000 from 2007-2017, according to data from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. Most of that stemmed from the $450,000 payout to Laura Mae Warner in 2011.
Staff writer Jeff Hargarten contributed to this report.
Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648