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Minnesota officer meant to grab Taser before shooting Black man, police say

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A Minnesota police officer wanted to use a Taser, but mistakenly drew a service revolver before fatally shooting a Black man at point-blank range during a traffic stop, authorities said Monday.

The Brooklyn Center Police Department released body-camera footage of Sunday afternoon’s encounter that ended in the death of Daunte Wright, 20.

Wright was shot in the Minneapolis suburb, which is about 14 miles north of where George Floyd was killed last year.

Body-cam footage appeared to show Wright getting out of his car and then getting back in before a female voice could be heard shouting “Taser!” before Wright was shot. The officer had meant to draw a Taser but instead grabbed her gun, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said at a Monday press conference.

“This was an accidental discharge,” Gannon told reporters.

Mayor Mike Elliott said he wants the officer fired.

“We cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life,” Elliott said. “I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties.”

Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by Brooklyn Center police during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021.Courtesy Wright Family

Wright called his mother, Katie Wright, asking for the car’s insurance information, shortly after being pulled over, she told reporters on Sunday.

He had been pulled over by police for having an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota, according to Katie Wright.

“Initial details are troubling,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said in a statement. “Wright’s mother told several news outlets that she was on the phone with her son when he was pulled over for having a dangling air freshener on his car rearview mirror. She said they asked him to get out of the car, but wouldn’t say why. Then she heard scuffling and gunshots.”

“The ACLU-MN has deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target Black people,” the statement continued. “The warrant appears to be for a non-felony.”

The unrest in Brooklyn Center came at a particularly fraught time for Minnesotans, already on edge with the Chauvin trial drawing so much attention.

The National Guard was mobilized to control a rock-throwing crowd which gathered in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department by nightfall. Officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas during the unrest.

Chauvin’s defense on Monday asked a judge to sequester jurors, fearing they could be influenced by the killing of another Black man by police.

The request was denied.

MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler said Chauvin’s defense never had any real hope of having jurors sent to a hotel room for the trial’s duration — but instead made the application as a possible, post-conviction insurance policy.

Asking for “the jury be sequestered is really a way that the defense … can preserve this issue on appeal,” Butler said.


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