Police Fatally Shot 20-Year-Old Daunte Wright During a Traffic Stop

Madison Feller
·6 min read
Photo credit: Stephen Maturen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stephen Maturen - Getty Images

Protests broke out in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday after police shot and killed a Black man, who has since been identified by family as 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Below, what you need to know about what happened and how you can stand in solidarity with Wright and his family.

What happened on April 11:

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 11, a police officer in Brooklyn Center, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis, fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. According to the New York Times, Brooklyn Center Police Department Chief Tim Gannon said officers pulled Wright over for a traffic violation and determined that Wright had a warrant out for his arrest. As officers tried to detain him, Wright stepped back into his car and an officer shot him. Wright then drove a few more blocks before hitting another vehicle and died at the scene. While the people in the other car were not injured, the passenger in Wright's car sustained non-life threatening injuries.

On Monday, Gannon said he watched body camera footage from the shooting and believes it was an “accidental discharge” and that “the officer had their intention to deploy the Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.” In the video, Gannon said, “You can hear the officer, while struggling with Mr. Wright, shouts ‘Taser, Taser,’ several times.” The Times reports that in the video, the officer can be also heard saying, “Holy shit. I just shot him.” While the officer has not been identified, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Gannon said she is a “very senior officer” who is now on administrative leave.

Katie Wright, Wright's mother, told reporters that her son called her as he was being pulled over. Per the Times, she said, “He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.” She said she heard “scuffling” and an officer telling Wright not to run before the call ended. When Wright's mother called back, his girlfriend answered and said Wright had been shot.

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Per the Star Tribune, Wright’s mother said: “He got out of the car, and his girlfriend said they shot him. He got back in the car, and he drove away and crashed and now he's dead on the ground since 1:47 ... Nobody will tell us anything. Nobody will talk to us ... I said please take my son off the ground.” Kim Hyatt, a reporter for the Star Tribune, tweeted that Wright’s mother also shared a photo of Wright’s son, Daunte Jr., who will be two years old in July.

Wright's father, Aubrey Wright, told the Post, “I know my son. He was scared. He still [had] the mind of a 17-year-old because we babied him. If he was resisting an arrest, you could Tase him. I don’t understand it.” He continued, “He was a great kid. He was a normal kid. He was never in serious trouble. He enjoyed spending time with his 2-year-old son. He loved his son.”

The shooting took place just miles away from the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd’s death sparked months of Black Lives Matter protests around the globe and prompted more mainstream conversations about the role of police in our communities and calls to defund police departments.

The response:

After police shot Wright on Sunday, hundreds of people spilled into the streets to protest yet another act of police violence. The Times reported that, in response, police officers outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department fired rubber bullets and chemical agents at the protesters, “some of whom lobbed rocks, bags of garbage, and water bottles at the police.”

Minnesota State Patrol officers and National Guard troops were both called in to assist officers at the police department and to clamp down on the unrest. The local school district held remote learning on Monday “out of an abundance of caution,” and Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott imposed a curfew from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Monday morning. Chief Gannon has asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the same agency that investigated Floyd's death, to investigate the recent shooting.

Elliott also released a statement on Sunday saying: “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. While we await additional information from the BCA who is leading the investigation, we continue to ask that members of our community gathering do so peacefully, amid our calls for transparency and accountability.” On Monday, Elliott said he supports firing the officer who shot Wright. He said, “My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession.” He also spoke with President Joe Biden on Monday, who offered his administration's support.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz also tweeted on Sunday: “Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”

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The Associated Press reported that Wright’s mom said on Sunday, “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. 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.”

How to stand in solidarity with Daunte Wright:

  • If you'd like to donate, Wright's aunt Kelly Bryant created a GoFundMe to cover funeral and burial costs.

  • Speak out and share Wright's story within your personal networks and on social media. Follow local news outlets and organizations for updates and to learn how to support Wright's family. The ACLU of Minnesota has already called for “an immediate, transparent and independent investigation by an outside agency other than the Brooklyn Center Police or the BCA, and for the quick release of any body-cam footage,” as well as naming the officers involved.

  • If you don't live in Minneapolis or the surrounding area but want to participate in a protest or vigil, seek out local organizing groups. (For example, several have already been planned in New York City in solidarity with Brooklyn Center.)

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