By Sarah Adamo
On April 11, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot to death by a police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, AP News reported. People around the world are now mourning his death and demanding that the police take accountability.
According to CNN, the police who were present at the scene claim that Wright was initially pulled over for an expired tag on his vehicle. More of the altercation was captured in the police bodycam footage, which indicates that Wright stepped out of the car and then got back in, with an officer threatening to taser him. Allegedly mistaking her handgun for a Taser, Officer Kim Potter delivered a fatal shot to Wright.
The police chief of the Minneapolis suburb also told reporters on Monday that Potter likely intended to grab her Taser when she shot Wright, CNN reported.
While the policemen described the shooting as “an accidental discharge” that occurred as officers attempted to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant related to having expired registration tags, Wright’s call to his mother minutes before his death suggested that he was pulled over due to air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror, AP News reported.
Wright’s warrant was issued after his failure to appear in court after allegedly fleeing from Minneapolis police with an unlicensed gun back in June. Court records hint that Wright only had a minor criminal record, consisting of petty misdemeanor convictions and disorderly conduct.
Learning of the “accidental” nature of the killing, the deceased’s father, Aubrey Wright, responded with skepticism. “I can’t accept that…mistake. That doesn’t even sound right. You know, this officer has been on the force for 26-plus years. I can’t accept that,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
For many protestors and civil rights activists, Wright’s story fits into a narrative rife with numerous devastations incurred by Black individuals in their experiences with law enforcement. Many find Wright’s death reminiscent of the George Floyd murder last year, in which the Black victim died under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis a mere fourteen miles south of Wright’s final moments. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, even worked with Wright while he attended Edison High School as a counselor or teacher’s assistant.
Shortly after the incident, Officer Potter and the police chief resigned from Brooklyn Center. Officer Potter also appeared in a Hennepin County courtroom over Zoom to face a charge of second-degree manslaughter, NBC News said. She has not entered a plea at this time and another court appearance is set for May 17, projected to be in-person if Covid-19 restrictions for Hennepin courts are lifted.
The governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, acknowledges the state’s failure to protect its Black residents from such unnecessary acts of force by law enforcement. Waltz told reporters that “You’re less safe to be Black in Minnesota than you are to be white right now on these things,” NBC News continues. He and other public officials plan to consider how to better ensure safety for the Black community of Minnesota through cultural- and policy-minded reforms.
For Wright’s parents, however, any consolation provided by Minneapolis authorities is insufficient. Daunte’s mother, Katie Wright, is quoted by NBC News as saying, “There is never going to be justice for us [her family]. We are still going to bury our son. We are still never going to be able to see our baby boy.”
She also wishes to share with the world the positive legacy left behind by her son, one which he should have had the ability to continue. She commented on “Good Morning America,” “He had a 2-year-old son that’s not going to be able to play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much.”
The young man also attended three different high schools and made his peers smile, as evidenced by his elected status as “class clown” while a freshman at Edison High School in Minneapolis. The youth development specialist and mentor at that institution, Jonathan Mason, describes Wright a “charismatic kid” and even one “that everybody looked up to.”
Wright played on his freshman and junior varsity basketball teams, according to AP News. He dreamed of taking his skills to the professional level and becoming an NBA player, though he told Mason that he was interested in starting his own business as well.
“He was everything,” said Wright’s sister, Destiny. “His smile, his jokes, everything about him, and she [Officer Porter] took that from us. And I am very disappointed.”