A massive crowd gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, with hundreds answering calls of “Say his name!” with “Daunte Wright!”
About 40 people were arrested during the protests, mostly on charges of rioting and for violating the area’s 7 p.m. curfew, Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said in a press conference in the early morning hours on Tuesday.
A few officers received “minor injuries” from being hit with debris, he said, and looting incidents were “pretty limited and sporadic in nature.”
In a press conference, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said Potter had meant to use her Taser on Wright, but accidentally shot him instead.
In body camera footage of the incident, Potter can be heard yelling, “Taser! Taser! Taser! Oh shit, I just shot him.”
The incident has further heightened grief and tension in the Minneapolis area, where Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, is currently on trial for murder.
In an interview with Good Morning America on Tuesday, Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, said he “can’t accept” the excuse that the fatal shooting of his son was a mistake.
“I lost my son. He is never coming back. I can’t accept that,” Aubrey Wright said. “A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right.”
When asked whether she would be fired, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon would not answer directly, but said, “I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning.”
Potter is president of her police union, the Brooklyn Center Police Officers Association, a role in which she has represented other officers who’ve killed people, KSTP-TV reported.
Gannon said officers pulled Wright over Sunday afternoon over an expired registration tag on his car, and when they ran his name through their system, found he had a warrant out for his arrest. According to the New York Times, he had missed a court appearance for two misdemeanor charges: carrying a handgun without a permit and running from police last June.
While attempting to arrest him on Sunday, Wright tried to break free and get back in his car. Body camera footage shows Potter warning Wright she would tase him, but then she fatally shot him.
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, had been on the phone with him during the incident, she told KARE 11. He called her when he was pulled over because she had recently given him the car and he needed the insurance information, she said.
Katie Wright said she heard her son ask an officer why he was being pulled over, and the officer said they would explain once he got out of the car. She then heard “scuffling” and demands from an officer to put his phone down.
“A minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered, which was the passenger in the car, and said that he’d been shot,” she said. “And she put it on the driver’s side, and my son was laying there, lifeless.”
At a candlelight vigil on Monday night, several members of Wright’s family spoke about their loss.
“My heart is literally broken into a thousand pieces, and I don’t know what to do or what to say,” his mother told the crowd. “But I just need everybody to know that he is much more than this. … He had a smile that was angelic, he lit up the room, he was funny, he played, he was an amazing son, and he’s going to truly be missed by everybody.”
“I just need everyone to know that he was my life, he was my son, and I can never get that back,” she said, “Because of a mistake? Because of an accident?“
His brother, Dallas Bryant, also challenged the police’s explanation that the shooting was simply accidental.
“You know the difference between your right and left, right? Everybody knows it,” he said. “My brother lost his life because they were trigger happy.”
In the Oval Office on Monday, President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the Wright family and said he had watched the video of the incident, calling it “fairly graphic.”
“The question is was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full-blown investigation,” Biden said.
In a statement Tuesday, former president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, said their “hearts are heavy over yet another shooting of a Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of police.”
“The fact that this could happen even as the city of Minneapolis is going through the trial of Derek Chauvin and reliving the heart-wrenching murder of George Floyd indicates not just how important it is to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but also just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country,” they said.
“Michelle and I grieve alongside the Wright family for their loss. We empathize with the pain that Black mothers, fathers, and children are feeling after yet another senseless tragedy,” they added. “And we will continue to work with all fair-minded Americans to confront historical inequities and bring about nationwide changes that are so long overdue.”