Daunte Wright: Protesters demand justice over police shooting of 20-year-old Black man in Minneapolis suburbs

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Andrew Buncombe
·4 min read
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Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters after shooting of 20-year-old (Getty Images)
Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters after shooting of 20-year-old (Getty Images)

Protesters have taken to the streets to demand justice after a 20-year-old Black man was shot dead by police in a Minneapolis suburb - ratcheting up tensions in a city already on a knife-edge amid the trial of an officer charged with the killing of George Floyd.

The mother of Daunte Wright told reporters her son was shot by officers from the Brooklyn Center Police Department after he was pulled over in a traffic stop on Sunday afternoon.

His mother said the young man had called her on her cell phone when he was pulled over, apparently after police objected to the air fresheners in his vehicle, and got out of his car, which the family had given him just two weeks ago.

Local media said Katie Wright told them she had heard someone on the phone saying: “Daunte, don’t run.”

Police claimed the young man at that point got back in his car, when one officer fired at him. The 20-year-old was struck, and his vehicle travelled for several more blocks before hitting another car.

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The young man was pronounced dead at the scene, despite efforts by emergency crews to save him.

“They just don’t care,” one protester, who asked to be identified just by his first name, David, told The Independent. “If police are going to act like that, they should be fired.”

Another protester, a woman, said she was not surprised by what had happened, and the police department in Brooklyn Center had a worse reputation than that of the Minneapolis Police Department, which is again in the spotlight this month as one of its former officers, Derek Chavin, is on trial for the alleged murder of George Floyd, last May.

Three other ex-officers are also set to go on trial for the killing of the 46-year-old.

“Cops just keep on killing black people all over the world,” said the woman.

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In the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Orchard Avenue in Brooklyn Center, just ten miles north of Minneapolis, the young man’s mother told reporters she had been on the phone to her son, as the incident happened

“I heard scuffling, and I heard the police officers say, ‘Daunte, don’t run’, and then the other officer said, ‘Put the phone down’ and hung it up,” Ms Wright said, according to a video clip posted by a journalist with the KARE 11 news network.

“And a minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered — that was the passenger — and said that he’d been shot, and she put it on the driver’s side and my son was laying there lifeless.”

The Star Tribune also reported Ms Wright as saying her son had told her he had been pulled over because of air fresheners hanging from his mirror.

“All he did was have air fresheners in the car and they told him to get out of the car,” she said.

“He got out of the car, and his girlfriend said they shot him. He got back in the car, and he drove away and crashed and now he’s dead on the ground since 1:47pm…Nobody will tell us anything. Nobody will talk to us. I said please take my son off the ground.”

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

Later, protesters gathered in the streets at the site of the shooting. The protest was almost entirely peaceful, though some people reportedly jumped on police vehicles, causing officers to fire tear gas.

At around 10pm, dozens of officers in riot gear created a protective barrier outside the Brooklyn Center Police headquarters, and fired several rounds of tear gas or chemical irritant to disperse the protesters.

After the shooting, police issued a statement saying officers stopped an individual shortly before 2pm on Sunday after determining the driver had an outstanding warrant. Police said when they tried to arrest the driver, the driver reentered the vehicle and drove away.

“One officer discharged their firearm, striking the driver,” the statement said. “The vehicle then traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle.”

The incident comes as the city is already tense, as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, enters its third week. Mr Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Three other officers charged over the killing of Mr Floyd are also due to go on trial next. Several police stations in the city appear to have beefed up security ahead of a verdict, and the national guard have been deployed.

Reports said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a state agency, was at the scene and investigating the incident.

Minnesota governor Tim Walz said on Twitter he was “closely monitoring the situation” and “praying for Daunte Wright's family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement”.

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