A Black man died after getting shot by police in a Minneapolis suburb during a traffic stop and crashing his car several blocks away, sparking violent protests that lasted into the early hours Monday as officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators and the man’s mother called for calm.
The man was identified by family as 20-year-old Daunte Wright, and he died Sunday in a metropolitan area already on edge and midway through the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted he was praying for Wright’s family “as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”
Speaking before the confrontation in Brooklyn Center between protesters and law enforcement, Daunte’s mother, Katie Wright, attempted to curb any unrest.
“All the violence, if it keeps going it’s only going to be about the violence. We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason,” she said to a crowd near the shooting scene. “We need to make sure it’s about him and not about smashing police cars, because that’s not going to bring my son back.”
Police didn’t immediately identify Wright, but protesters who gathered near the scene waved flags and signs reading “Black Lives Matter.” Others walked peacefully with their hands held up. On one street, written in multi-colored chalk: “Justice for Daunte Wright.”
Brooklyn Center police said in a statement that officers had stopped a motorist shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday. After determining the driver had an outstanding warrant, police tried to arrest the driver. The driver reentered the vehicle and an officer fired at the vehicle, striking the driver, police said. The vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle.
The account of the shooting from Wright’s family differed, with Katie Wright saying he was shot before getting back into the car.
Police said the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office will release the person’s name following a preliminary autopsy and family notification. A female passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the crash. Brooklyn Center is a city of about 30,000 people located on the northwest border of Minneapolis.
Katie Wright said that passenger was her son’s girlfriend. Wright said her son called her as he was getting pulled over.
“All he did was have air fresheners in the car and they told him to get out of the car,” Wright said. During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying “Daunte, don’t run” before the call ended. When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and said he’d had been shot.