Daunte Wright's parents 'can't accept' officer killed their son by 'mistake'

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Christi Carras
·4 min read
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The parents of Daunte Wright "can't accept" a Minnesota police chief's claim that the fatal shooting of their 20-year-old son was "accidental."

Speaking about the death of Wright, a young Black man who was shot and killed Sunday by a white police officer, Kim Potter, during a traffic stop, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting as an "accidental discharge." He said Potter intended to fire a taser instead of a handgun.

In their first TV interview since their son’s death, Aubrey Wright and Katie Wright pushed back against the narrative that Potter fired her weapon by "mistake."

"I cannot accept that I lost my son," Aubrey Wright told "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts on Tuesday. "He's never coming back. I can't accept that. A mistake? ... that doesn't even sound right. This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can't accept that."

"I would like to see justice served and [Potter] held accountable for everything that she's taken from us," Katie Wright added.

Potter, who had been on administrative leave since the shooting, resigned Tuesday, as did Gannon. In her resignation letter, Potter said her decision was "in the best interest of the community."

While speaking with Roberts through tears, Katie Wright detailed the phone call her son made immediately after authorities pulled him over. On the phone, Daunte Wright told his mother that he had been stopped because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.

After Katie Wright instructed her son to give the phone to the police so she could relay his insurance information, she said she heard officers ask him to put the phone down. She then heard "scuffling" and "screaming" from Daunte Wright's girlfriend before officers asked them to end the call, she said.

The next person to answer the phone was Daunte Wright's girlfriend, who said her son had been shot and was unresponsive in the driver's seat. Asked how the altercation escalated to gun violence, Katie Wright said she didn't know.

"I know my son was scared," she told Roberts. "He's afraid of the police. And I'd just seen and heard the fear in his voice. But I don't know why. It should have never, ever escalated the way it did."

"[My wife] called me, and she was screaming and telling me what was going on," Aubrey Wright added. "It was a normal day for us. It started off as a normal day. I haven't talked much to the police at all. They haven't ... given us any information at all."

Toward the end of the conversation, the grieving parents remembered their son as "an amazing, loving kid" with a "big heart" and thanked their supporters for ensuring that Daunte Wright's "name doesn't get swept under the rug and forgotten about."

"He loved basketball. He had a 2-year-old son that's not gonna be able to play basketball with him," Katie Wright said.

"He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much. He was an uncle, a grandson. He had a smile that would light up the room ... He was amazing ... He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chest. He was my baby."

Also present for the interview was the Wrights' attorney, Ben Crump, who is also representing the family of George Floyd amid the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. The former Minneapolis police officer has been charged with murder and manslaughter after digging his knee into Floyd's neck for about nine minutes during an arrest.

"It's not about training. It's about implicit bias," Crump told Roberts. "It's about giving the same respect and consideration to people of color that we give to white American citizens. ...

"They use the most force when it comes to dealing with marginalized minorities, and we can't have these two Americas ... where we treat Black Americans different from white Americans in policing. That's when it will stop — when we start treating each other all the same."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.