Minnesota Mayor Says Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright, 20, Should Be Relieved Of Duty

Daunte Wright was killed during a traffic stop, which Brooklyn Center police chief called an “accidental discharge.”

Tear gas fills the air outside the Brooklyn Center police headquarters on April 11, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. | Getty Images

Police shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday, leading to protests in the region as the nation watches week three of ex-cop Derek Chauvin’s murder trial commence. During a press conference Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon showed body camera footage of Wright’s attempted arrest and said the officer who shot him is on administrative leave. 

Wright was killed in Brooklyn Center after police say they pulled him over during a traffic stop around 2 p.m. Sunday. Police claim the officer shot Wright after he “re-entered the vehicle” during an arrest; Wright’s vehicle then “traveled several blocks” and hit another vehicle. He was pronounced dead on the scene. Gannon called the shooting an “accidental discharge” as the officer involved allegedly intended to use a Taser.

Gannon said Monday that Wright was allegedly pulled over because of expired tags and an item dangling from his rear review mirror, and that police then determined he had an outstanding warrant.

The shooting generated immediate protests, where images and video show cops wearing riot gear and firing tear gas and flash-bang grenades. The National Guard was dispatched early Monday morning.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott has made multiple statements since Wright’s shooting and tweeted Monday that the Biden administration had contacted him. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a press conference that the administration was “saddened to hear about the loss of life at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota yesterday.”

"Our hearts are aching right now. We are in pain right now, and we recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” Elliott said. “We will do all that is in our power to make sure justice is done for Daunte Wright.”

MPR reported that Daunte’s mother Katie addressed a crowd of protesters Sunday before interactions with police turned violent.

“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. “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.”

Wright’s killing comes as Minneapolis continues to reel from the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, at the hands of Chauvin in May 2020. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin’s trial began its 11th day of witness testimony on Monday, and Judge Peter Cahill denied the defense’s request to sequester the jurors in the wake of Wright’s killing.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which also investigated Floyd’s death, arrived on the scene of Wright’s death Sunday. The BCA investigates most police-involved deaths in Minnesota.

Wright is the father of a two-year-old, Katie Wright told Star Tribune reporter Kim Hyatt. MPR’s Tim Nelson reported that Katie Wright said Daunte “was taking his new car to get it washed” before his death on Sunday.

Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN) said Sunday that he was “closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center.”

Multiple people called for the officer who killed Wright to be relieved of duty during the press conference Monday — which Mayor Elliott said he supported. After walking out and facing multiple calls to return, Gannon resumed taking questions.

Wright’s family gave a statement to ABC News, saying 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."