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Two weeks into the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, another Black man was killed at the hands of the police. This man was Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old who was fatally shot at a traffic stop on Sunday afternoon.
Wright was driving in Brooklyn Center, just northwest of Minneapolis, when he was pulled over by police. According to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, as reported by ABC News, police officers pulled Wright over for an expired registration tag on his car, then determined during the traffic stop that he had an outstanding gross misdemeanor warrant. When police attempted to take Wright into custody, he reentered the car, and one of the officers, identified as Kim Potter, shot him. Wright's car then traveled several blocks before crashing into another car, and he died at the scene.
Gannon said he believes that Potter, who has been with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years, intended to deploy her Taser, but instead drew her handgun and "accidentally" shot Wright.
Wright's mother, Katie Wright, told ABC News that she was on the phone with him during the traffic stop. He called her and told her that police had pulled him over due to air fresheners hanging in his rearview mirror, which is illegal per Minnesota law. The mother said she told her son to take the air fresheners down and put her on the phone with the police if they asked for his car insurance so that she could give them the information. She then heard police ask her son to get out of the vehicle.
During an interview on Good Morning America on Tuesday morning, she recounted what she heard on the phone with her son. "Daunte said, 'For what, am I in trouble?' I heard the phone getting put down pretty hard," she said. "And then I heard scuffling and the girl that was with him screaming, and I heard an officer ask for them to hang up the phone and then I didn't hear anything else."
Wright's mother said she called back several times before the girl that was with him answered and said that he had been shot and was unresponsive. Wright is now part of a tragic group of Black drivers who have died after being pulled over by police, a group that includes Philando Castile, a 32-year-old man who was fatally shot in 2016 by a Minneapolis police officer after he was stopped for a broken taillight.
In the GMA interview, Wright's mother described her son as "an amazing, loving kid" who "had a big heart," "bright" smile, and "loved basketball," ABC News reports.
"He had a 2-year-old son that's not going to be able to play basketball with him," she continued. "He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much. He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby."
Wright's father, Aubrey Wright, said he "can't accept" the idea that their son's killing was a "mistake."
"I can't accept that—a mistake, that doesn't even sound right," he added. "This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can't accept that."
Wright's family has hired civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, the lead attorney for Floyd's family, to represent them.
According to NBC News, Crump said: "Daunte Wright is yet another young Black man killed at the hands of those who have sworn to protect and serve all of us—not just the whitest among us. As Minneapolis and the rest of the country continue to deal with the tragic killing of George Floyd, now we must also mourn the loss of this young man and father. This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane."
Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to help the family.
How to help:
1. Sign the petition.
This Color of Change petition is calling for Potter, the cop who fatally shot Wright, to be fired, along with the rest of the officers involved in the shooting. Sign the petition here.
Wright's aunt, Kelly Bryant, created this fundraiser to assist with funds for her nephew's funeral and burial and raise money to help support his son, Daunte Jr. Head to the official GoFundMe here.
Instagram user @holisticheaux has been in touch with Wright's girlfriend and the mother of his child, Chyna Whitaker, to find out what kind of support they need. Those in Minnesota can drop off items, like diapers, groceries, clothes, and shoes, by directly messaging the Instagram account for location specifics. Others who want to help from afar can donate funds to the below accounts to help support Whitaker and her son.
Cash App: $hubby98 (Chyna's direct Cash App)
Venmo: @/thuy-jones (Will pass to Chyna, note Daunte Jr)
PayPal: @/holisticheaux (Will pass to Chyna, note Daunte Jr)
3. Support Brooklyn Center Kids and Families.
Brooklyn Center is considered a food desert, and as the protests and unrest continue in the area, the surrounding families may struggle even more to have access to necessities. To support these communities, you can donate to this GoFundMe page to help provide meals for Brooklyn Center students and families.
You can also follow the recently established Brooklyn Center Mutual Aid Facebook page for updates on what support is needed.