Police clashed Monday with protesters for the second straight night in a Minneapolis suburb where a police officer shot and killed a black man during a weekend traffic stop. The police chief said it appeared the officer intended to fire a taser, not a gun, as the man struggled with other officers.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the death Sunday of Daunte Wright, 20, as an accidental shooting. His death sparked protests and riots in a metropolitan area already under intense tensions due to the trial of the first of four police officers charged in the death of George Floyd.
Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Brooklyn Center after dark Monday, hours after the governor announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew. When the crowd failed to disperse, police began firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades, and chased some protesters. Police in riot gear lined up in a long line, banging their batons rhythmically, began to advance slowly to push back the remaining people.
Get back!” exclaimed the police. Hands up! Don’t shoot!” responded the people.
By 22:00 there were only a few dozen people left.
Security forces had reinforced their presence in the Minneapolis area following Sunday’s violent incidents. More than twice as many National Guardsmen were expected to be deployed by Monday night, more than 1,000.
Authorities released footage from the officers’ body cameras in which the officer who fired the shots could be heard yelling at Wright as police tried to detain him.
I’m going to apply the stun gun! I’m going to apply the stun gun! Taser! Taser! Taser! (the brand of the gun), shouts the police officer. She draws her gun after the man manages to get away from the police by his car and gets back in front of the steering wheel.
The policewoman fires a shot from her gun, the car speeds away, and the policewoman is heard to say: Holy (expletive)! I shot him.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott described the shooting as deeply trafficked and said the officer should be fired.
Elliott later announced that the city council had voted to give the mayor command authority over the police department.
This will speed things up and establish a chain of command and leadership, he wrote on Twitter. He also said the city manager had been fired and his number two would assume his duties.
Brooklyn Center is a modest suburb north of Minneapolis that has experienced a dramatic demographic shift in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Now, the majority of residents are black, of Asian or Latino roots.
Eliott, the city’s first black mayor, came to the country as a child as an immigrant from Liberia. On Monday night, he addressed the crowd near the police station alongside Keith Ellison, the state’s first black attorney general. He told the protesters to make their voices heard, but to stay safe.
We’re going to get to the bottom of this, we’re going to make sure there’s justice, that officers are held accountable, Elliott told the crowd, according to a video shared by a reporter from Minneapolis television station KARE.
Ellison reminded the crowd that he is leading the charge against the first officer charged in Floyd’s death and vowed that Wright’s death will not be swept under the rug.
Organizers from the Movement for Black Lives, a national coalition of more than 150 black activist and political organizations, pointed to Wright’s death as another reason why cities must accept proposals to reduce funding to a racist, irreparably broken system.
Body camera footage showed three officers around a stopped car, which authorities say was stopped for expired license plates. When one officer attempts to handcuff Wright, another tells him that they are being arrested on an outstanding warrant. Then the struggle begins and the shooting ensues. The car then travels several blocks before colliding with another vehicle.
Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to a statement from the Hennepin County coroner.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, identified the officer who fired the shots as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran who was placed on administrative leave.
Court records showed a search warrant for Wright for failing to appear in court to face charges of fleeing police and possessing a weapon without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.