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Police chief says Daunte Wright shoots an ‘unintentional discharge’

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

“It’s my belief that the officer intended to deploy their Taser, but instead fired Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said of the shooting Sunday by Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop. . “This seems, from what I saw, and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after this was an unintentional discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright. ”

The officer, who was not publicly identified, has been put on administrative leave, officials said. Chief Gannon said Mr. Wright was initially withdrawn due to an expired registration on the vehicle he was driving. The video showed a short match between Mr. Wright and police officers before one of the officers fired her gun.

After the officer fired, she is heard in the video saying, “Holy shit. I just shot him. ”

In the hours after the shooting Sunday afternoon, protests, violence and looting broke out in the Brooklyn Center, a suburb of 30,000 people north of Minneapolis. The shooting comes amid a national bill over police misconduct and police killings of black people; Mr. Wright was black. City officials did not identify the police officer’s race.

“We’re getting to the bottom of this,” Mike Elliott, the mayor of Brooklyn Center, told a news conference Monday. “We will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is done for Daunte Wright.”

Mr. Elliott called for the officer who shot Mr. Wright, was fired. “My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of other people’s lives in our profession,” he said. “And then I fully support freeing the officer from her duties.”

The Twin Cities region has been at the forefront for several weeks as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with the murder of George Floyd, is ongoing in a courtroom in Minneapolis less than 10 miles from where Wright got shot.

A curfew was imposed until early Monday morning, and the Brooklyn Center School District announced it would hold classes nearly Monday.

Elliott said President Biden offered support from his administration in a phone call Monday; Mr. Biden is “sad to hear about the loss of human life at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota,” said Jen Psaki, a White House spokeswoman, and is expected to speak publicly about the shooting later Monday.

Chief Gannon said an officer had shot Mr. Wright on Sunday afternoon after pulling his car over a traffic violation and discovering he had a warrant for his arrest. When police tried to detain Mr. Wright, he went back in his car at which point an officer shot him, Chief Gannon said.

Mr. Wright’s car then traveled several blocks and hit another vehicle, after which police and medical workers declared him dead. Chief Gannon gave no information on how seriously the crash had been, though the passengers in the other car were not injured.

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

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

John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said the unrest that followed Wright’s death had spread to a shopping mall in the Brooklyn Center and that people had broken into about 20 businesses there. Around midnight, most of the protesters had fled from police when National Guard troops and Minnesota State Patrol officers arrived to back up police officers standing around the building with riots and batons.

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

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a state agency investigating police killings in Minnesota, is conducting an investigation.

Police officers at the Brooklyn Center said they had been working for years to diversify the force and improve relations with the community.

Chief Gannon, a white veteran of the US Marine Corps, had been with the department for 21 years when he was promoted to the top position in 2015.

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

Among his goals, in addition to lowering crime, he said, were to equip officers with body cameras and make the force more representative of the suburb’s diversifying population.

The Brooklyn Center – the site of the Minneapolis field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the birthplace of Hennepin County’s first sheriff – was more than 70 percent white as late as the 2000 census. But its racial and ethnic composition changed dramatically in the last generation, and society has since 2010 had a majority minority population, where only approx. 44.5 percent are now white, according to federal statistics. 29 percent of the population is black, 16 percent is Asian-American and 13.5 percent is Latino.

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

“If they have these positive interactions,” he said, “then they come in contact with officers, not always in the tail of a 911 call.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reported from the Brooklyn Center and Julie Bosman from Chicago. Reporting was contributed by Azi Paybarah of New York, Shawn Hubler of Sacramento, California, Matt Furber of Brooklyn Center and Neil Vigdor of Greenwich, Conn. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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