The police-involved fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright sparked protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday (April 11), after the public learned of his death. According to reports, Wright was pulled over in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota –– about 10 miles outside of Minneapolis –– shortly after 2 p.m for a traffic violation. During the stop, officers found a warrant for Wright's arrest and when they made an attempt to arrest him, Wright tried to get back in his car. One of the officer then opened fire on the car, hitting Wright. The victim's family says he drove a short distance before he crash his vehicle and died at the scene.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that a crowd of about 500 protesters marched to the city's police headquarters after news of Wrights' death was made known. Tensions between the community and law enforcement have been high during the ongoing trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd last May.
National Guard troops were deployed to the area where they used flash bangs, tear gas, and rubber bullets on the crowd who chanted Wright's name. There were reports of looting throughout Minneapolis overnight and the Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott imposed a curfew until 6 a.m. and cancelled school for Monday (April 12).
"Our entire community is filled with grief following today's officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old young man. Our hearts are with his family, and with all those in our community impacted by this tragedy," Elliot said in a statement.
Katie Wright, the woman who identified herself as the victim's mother, told the Star-Tribune that the police stop was because Daunte had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror. She also called on the protests to remain peaceful and said she wants "justice for Daunte."
"We don't want it to be about all this violence," Katie Wright said. "All he did was have air fresheners in the car and they told him to get out of the car."
Katie Wright told KARE reporter Chris Hrapsky in an interview shared on Twitter that she was on the phone when Daunte was pulled over by police.
"I heard the police officer come to the window and say, 'Put the phone down and get out of the car,'" Wright's mother said. "Daunte said, 'Why?' And [a police officer] said, 'We'll explain to you when you get out of the car,'" she said. Katie Wright said she also heard a "scuffle" and an officer telling Daunte not to run before their call got disconnected. Moments later, Daunte's girlfriend who had been a passenger in the car called Katie Wright back and said her son had been shot.
"She put it on the driver's side and my son was laying there, lifeless," Katie Wright said.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz shared a statement and indicated that he is "closely monitoring the situation."
"Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright's family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement," the governor tweeted.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehensions is reportedly taking over the investigation.
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