Barack Obama Says Daunte Wright’s Killing Is ‘Reminder of Just How Badly’ U.S. Needs to Reimagine Policing

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Sean Neumann
·3 min read
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Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Barack Obama

Barack Obama said Tuesday he and wife Michelle Obama were grieving for Daunte Wright's family and that the latest high-profile killing of a Black man is another reminder policing in the U.S. needs to be reimagined.

Wright, 20, was fatally shot by a Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer on Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop. That officer, a department veteran, has since been placed on leave.

Wright's death came as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd last May, was entering its third week.

The shooting re-sparked nationwide outcry as well as calls for police reform and local demonstrations against police brutality. (The Associated Press reported 13 arrests were made in the area on Tuesday, for burglaries and curfew violations, while photos shows several stores were damaged. Local officials called for protests to remain nonviolent.)

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Daunte Wright.

"Our hearts are heavy over yet another shooting of a Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of police," Obama, 59, wrote in a statement Tuesday.

The former president wrote on Twitter that he believes it is "important to conduct a full and transparent investigation," but that Wright's death "is also a reminder of just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country."

"We empathize with the pain that Black mothers, fathers, and children are feeling after yet another senseless tragedy," Obama continued.

He added that he and his family "will continue to work with all fair-minded Americans to confront historical inequities and bring about nationwide changes that are so long overdue."

RELATED: Daunte Wright's Mom Says He Was 'Scared' on Phone in Traffic Stop Moments Before Police Killed Him

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Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency via Getty Minnesota protests

Obama, who became the first Black president in U.S. history when he was elected in 2008, has regularly delivered emotional remarks in the wake of police killings while calling for change.

A number of high-profile deaths of Black men happened during Obama's eight years in office, including Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Philando Castile among others.

"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son," Obama said in 2013. "Another way of saying that is: Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

After Brown was killed in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, Obama said "we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation."

And soon after Gray was killed in Baltimore, Obama said, "I think we as a country have to do some soul searching."

"If we really want to solve the problem, if our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could," Obama said then. "It's just it would require everybody saying this is important, this is significant."

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black person to hold that office, also addressed Wright's death.

Speaking at a Tuesday event about Black women's health, she said, "He should be alive today."

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