A Minnesota Police Chief said Monday he believed a policeman wanted to use a Taser, but mistakenly drew a service weapon before fatally shooting a black man at close range during a traffic stop.
The Brooklyn Center Police Department released body camera footage from Sunday’s encounter that ended with the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was shot dead in suburban Minneapolis, about 14 miles south of the city. north of where George Floyd was killed last year.
Body camera footage appeared to show Wright exiting his car and then getting in, as officers attempted to apprehend him on an undisclosed pending warrant, authorities said at a press conference on Monday.
As Wright got back into his car, a female voice could be heard shouting “Taser!” before Wright was shot, the video appeared to show.
That same female voice could be heard saying, “Holy s — I just shot him” as the car drove away, police said.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said he thought it was clear the officer wanted to draw a Taser, but instead grabbed his gun.
“During this meeting, however, the officer drew his handgun instead of his Taser,” the chief told reporters. “As I watched the video and listened to the officer’s orders, I believe the officer intended to deploy his Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”
He added: “It seems to me from what I saw and the officer’s distress reaction immediately after it was an accidental discharge which resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright. “
Mayor Mike Elliott has said he wants the officer fired.
“We cannot afford to make mistakes that will result in loss of life,” said Elliott. “I fully support the release of the officer from his post.”
She was put on administrative leave and Gannon pulled up just before accepting the mayor’s call to fire the officer. But he strongly hinted that she would not be returning to work.
“This officer enjoys due process like anyone else. She has the right to be heard, she has the right to make her statement. She has the right to say what she felt, what she thought, ”said Gannon.
“She will not be returning to duty until the investigation has run its course. And for all intents and purposes, I think we can watch the video and determine if she will return.”
The shooting involving a police officer will be handled by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and Gannon said he believed state investigators would have disagreed with his decision to release a body camera video on Monday.
“Releasing the video so soon… isn’t something they approve of,” Gannon said. “I felt the community needed to know what had happened. They needed to see it. I needed to be transparent and I wanted to be upfront.”
There was no immediate identification of the officer, although Gannon calls her a “very high-ranking” member of the department.
“ The first details are disturbing ”
Wright called her mother, Katie Wright, to inquire about insuring the car shortly after she was pulled over, she told reporters on Sunday.
He had been arrested by police for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota, according to Katie Wright.
“The first details are disturbing,” the United States Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said in a statement. “Wright’s mother told multiple media outlets that she was on the phone with her son when he was arrested for having an air freshener hanging on his car’s rear view mirror. She said they asked her to get out of the car, but they didn’t want to say why. Then she heard scuffles and gunshots. “
“The ACLU-MN is deeply concerned that the police here appear to have used hanging air fresheners as an excuse to make a pretextual arrest, which police do too often to target blacks,” the statement continued. “The warrant appears to be for a non-crime.”
The unrest at the Brooklyn Center came at a particularly difficult time for Minnesotans, already on the brink of the Chauvin trial that was garnering so much attention.
The National Guard was mobilized to control a stone-throwing crowd that gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department after dark. Officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas during the unrest.
The Minnesota Twins postponed their home game Monday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox.
The franchise said in a statement that “out of respect for the tragic events at the Brooklyn Center yesterday” it was “in the best interests of our fans, staff, players and community not to play the game. today “.
It wasn’t immediately clear when the game would be invented. The Twins are playing at Target Field, just over 10 miles south of where Wright was shot.
Sunday’s tragedy played a role in the Chauvin case on Monday as his defense attorney asked the judge to sequester jurors, fearing they would be influenced by the murder of another black man by police.
The request was denied.
MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler said Chauvin’s defense never really expected jurors to be sent to a hotel room during the trial – but instead made the request as police insurance possible after conviction.
Asking “that the jury be sequestered is really a defense … to preserve this issue on appeal,” said Butler.