Police Chief says shooting death of Daunte Wright was due to ‘accidental discharge’
The unidentified female officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright is on administrative leave
The police chief in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota has attributed the death of Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man, to an “accidental discharge” by the responding police officer.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon held a press conference on Monday to discuss the shooting death of 20-year-old Wright on Sunday, CNN reported. Gannon claimed that the officer who fired the fatal shot meant to reach for her taser instead.
Bodycam footage of the encounter was released. It showed a female officer shouting “Taser! Taser! Taser” and “I just shot him,” as officers surrounded Wright. Gannon believed that provided context for Wright’s shooting.
“For informational purposes we train with our handguns on our dominant side, and our taser on our weak side. If you’re right-handed you carry your firearm on your right side and your carry your taser on the left,” Gannon said at a press conference attended by journalists and activists.
“This is done purposefully, and it’s trained. As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”
The chief further claimed that the officer, who has not yet been publicly named, reacted from “distress.”
“As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s commands it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet, this appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge,” Gannon said.
The officer in question is now on administrative leave.
As theGrio previously reported, Wright was pulled over on Sunday in Plymouth which is near Minneapolis on suspicion of an expired tag. Gannon claimed that the traffic stop escalated after there was “a contact that the officer went up there initially for, obtained his ID, or his name, he walked back to his car and at that time he ran his name and he found out that he had a warrant. That’s why they removed him from the car and they were making custodial arrest.”
Witnesses told the Star Tribune that Wright drove his car after being shot and then crashed the vehicle. About 500 protesters gathered in Brooklyn Center and a standoff ensued with police in riot gear. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bags were fired at the crowd.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz extended his condolences to Wright and has deployed the National Guard to Brooklyn Center.
Gannon defended the use of heavy police presence.
“Absolutely not,” Gannon asserted when he asked if he would have done things differently last night.
The tense confrontation led Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott to issue a 6 a.m. curfew on Monday. Elliot, who was also at the press conference, also signaled his support for the officer in question to be relieved of her duties.
He also acknowledged that the tragedy was taking place against the backdrop of former Minneapolis Derek Chauvin who is on trial for the death of George Floyd.
“We recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” he said in a news conference Monday. “We recognize that this is happening at a time when our community —when all of America, indeed all of the world — is watching.”
Wright’s family told ABC News that they wanted him to be remembered as a loving father who cared for his family, including his young child who is named after him.
“We just want people to know Daunte was a good kid,” Wright’s family said in a statement. “He loved being a father to Daunte Jr.”
“Daunte had a smile to make anyone’s heart melt. He was definitely a jokester, he loved to joke with people, especially his brothers and sisters,” the family added. “He did not deserve this.”
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