The city of Minneapolis is again reeling after a police officer shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop. Police say the officers on the scene discovered Mr. Wright had an outstanding warrant, and tried to arrest him. When he attempted to flee, an officer opened fire and wounded Wright, who continued his flight.
Relatives and experts have raised questions regarding the official narrative.
Police have claimed the stop was due to officers spotting “dangling air fresheners” in the vehicle – something the American Civil Liberties Union says is a frequently cited pretext for stops – and the decedent’s father, Aubrey Wright, has told reporters his late son’s car had tinted glass that would make it difficult for officers to notice such a thing.
“I know my son,” the Washington Post quoted Mr. Wright as saying. “He was scared. He still [had] the mind of a 17-year-old because we babied him.”
Daunte Wright reportedly had a learning disability and dropped out of high school some two years ago. He was the father of a two-year-old son, and worked jobs in retail and fast-food service to support his family. He planned to go back to school to get his GED.
The Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Bernard Hebda, on Monday offered prayers for all involved.
“I have been praying for [Wright’s] eternal repose, for his family and for all those who loved him,” Archbishop Hebda said, adding that he is “also praying for the Brooklyn Center Police officer involved in the shooting, and for her family and friends. I suspect that they are grieving in a different way.”
The officer who shot Mr. Wright is on administrative leave, pending investigation. The Brooklyn Center Chief of Police has said he believes the shooting to have been accidental – that the officer mistook a loaded service weapon for a non-lethal taser.
Archbishop Hebda was cautious regarding the claim.
“While early indications point towards the shooting being accidental,” Archbishop Hebda said, “I encourage allowing investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to complete a thorough investigation before coming to any personal judgments as to what occurred.”
In the protests that erupted in the wake of the deadly incident, demonstrators chanted “Black lives matter!” and “Say his name: Daunte Wright!”
The situation was tense, and occasionally became violent. Protestors at the scene reportedly jumped on a police vehicle and smashed its windshield with a cinder block. The crowd grew, and marched to police headquarters.
There, police in riot gear fired volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets, and other non-lethal ordnance.
Also on Sunday evening, looters tore through as many as 20 stores around a shopping district some two miles away.
National Guard soldiers arrived Sunday evening, and Minnesota governor Timothy Wal Walz said he is “closely monitoring the situation” and “praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”