Hundreds of mourners and protesters have gathered in a Minnesota city where the family of a 20-year-old man said he was shot by police before getting back into his car and driving away, then crashing several blocks away.
While the police have not yet named the victim, the family of the victim identified as Daunte Wright, 20, says that he was shot on Sunday afternoon after being stopped for a traffic violation and was later announced dead.
This incident flared tensions in the city, where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is being tried for the murder of George Floyd who was shot dead in May 2020 and became the driving force behind the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation, and Wright’s death as Chauvin’s trial is ongoing has opened old wounds.
Brooklyn Center where Wright was shot on Sunday afternoon is a half-hour drive from where Chauvin’s trial is underway.
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright noted that her son was killed by a police officer after being pulled over for displaying an air freshener in his rearview mirror.
She pleaded in a video posted on Twitter for people to come forth with more information on the case, and for the authorities to move her son’s body off the street.
“All he did was have an air freshener in the car and they told him to get out of the car. He got out of the car, and his girlfriend said they shot him,” Katie Wright said.
“Now he’s dead on the ground since 1.47 pm. Nobody will tell us anything, Nobody will talk to us. I said please take my son off the ground. she added
While it is unclear why exactly Wright was pulled over, he may have been stopped for a rarely enforced traffic law that makes it illegal to hang anything from one’s rearview mirror that may obstruct vision anything from an air freshener to a keychain.
Meanwhile, Wright, 42, Daunte’s father, said that his son was heading to the car wash in his new vehicle when he heard that his son was shot after he received a call from his wife.
“She was screaming over the phone. She was saying, ‘Daunte was shot” Wright told the press.
According to an eyewitness, Carolyn Hanson saw police officers drag Wright out of the vehicle to perform CPR on him adding that she saw another passenger get out of the car “covered in blood.
Crowds later gathered near Brooklyn Center in the hours following the incident, with officers clad in riot gear pushing back against protesters.
According to reports, around 500 people headed to the Brooklyn Center police headquarters at 9.30 pm around 7 hours after Wright’s death – pushing past police tape and clashing with officers clad in riot gear.
The windshields of two squad cars were smashed during the clash. Tear gas, stun grenades, and non-lethal rounds were also fired to disperse the crowd.
According to eyewitness sightings, troops from the National Guard were sent in around seven to eight hours after the protests on Sunday began. At least three trucks and multiple squads were seen setting up at a Walmart near Brooklyn Center at around 3 am.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott imposed a curfew for the town from 1 am to 6 am.
Hours later, protests began to spill over into other cities, with small groups of protesters also marching in downtown Portland.
A statement by the Brooklyn Center police department did not identify Wright but said that a man with an “outstanding warrant” was stopped for a traffic violation.
According to the statement, Wright was outside his car and then “re-entered the vehicle” when an officer shot him.
“The vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle. Officers in pursuit and responding medical personnel attempted life-saving measures, but the person died at the scene,” said the statement, adding that a female passenger in the vehicle was brought to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The police department added that body and dash cameras were switched on during the incident and that an independent investigation into the case has been opened.
Minnesota governor Tim Walz said on Twitter on Sunday night that he was “closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center.”
“Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement,” Walz tweeted.