Protests Erupt After Police Kill Black Man During Traffic Stop Near Minneapolis

Protesters confront law enforcement after police shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. (Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Protests Erupt After Police Kill Black Man During Traffic Stop Near Minneapolis

"Yet another Black life was taken by those sworn to protect, and we join the community in mourning Wright's loss," said the ACLU of Minnesota.


Minnesota police on Monday released footage from an officer's body camera showing the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright. The video shows police attempting to arrest Wright during a traffic stop. As Wright tries to re-enter his vehicle, one officer pulls a weapon and yells, "Taser! Taser! Taser!" before shooting the victim.

As Wright's vehicle pulls away, the officer can be heard saying "Holy shit. I just shot him."

"It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said Monday. "This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in a tragic death of Mr. Wright."

According to the New York Times, "the officer, who was not publicly identified, has been placed on administrative leave, officials said."

"We will get to the bottom of this," Mike Elliott, the mayor of Brooklyn Center, said during a press conference on Monday. "We will do all that is within our power to make sure that justice is done for Daunte Wright."

As the Times noted, Elliot called for the officer who killed Wright to be fired. "My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession," the mayor said. "And so I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties."

Warning: Video depicts graphic violence.


Police fatally shot Daunte Wright--an unarmed, 20-year-old Black man--during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on Sunday afternoon, sparking protests in the northern Minneapolis suburb located just miles away from where George Floyd was killed by police last May.

"Yet another Black life was taken by those sworn to protect," the state's ACLU chapter said in a statement. "We join the community in mourning Wright's loss."

The unrest in Brooklyn Center came amid already high tensions as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering Floyd, enters its third week.

A crowd gathered near the scene of Wright's death. According to Reuters, his mother, Katie Wright, told reporters that "she had received a call from her son on Sunday afternoon telling her that police had pulled him over for having air fresheners dangling from his rear-view mirror, illegal in Minnesota. She could hear police tell her son to get out the vehicle, she said."

"I heard scuffling, and I heard police officers say, 'Daunte, don't run,'" she said through tears," Reuters reported. "The call ended. When she dialed his number again, his girlfriend answered and said he was dead in the driver's seat."

In a statement, the Brooklyn Center Police Department claimed that "officers initiated a stop for a traffic violation... shortly before 2 pm," at which point they "determined that the driver of the vehicle has an outstanding arrest warrant."

According to the police, Wright tried to re-enter the vehicle as officers attempted to arrest him. At that point, one officer shot Wright, whose vehicle "traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle." Wright died at the scene.

Police said they "believe both body-worn cameras and dash cameras were activated during this incident." They have asked the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to conduct an independent investigation.

The ACLU of Minnesota, however, called for "an immediate, transparent, and independent investigation by an outside agency other than the Brooklyn Center Police or the BCA, and for the quick release of body-cam footage."

"We call for the naming of all officers and agencies involved," the organization continued. "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."

As the Star Tribunereported:

Within hours of the shooting, a couple hundred people had gathered near the scene, where emotions were running high...

Protesters later walked to the Brooklyn Center police headquarters near N. 67th Avenue and N. Humboldt Avenue and were locked in a standoff with police in riot gear late Sunday night. Officers repeatedly ordered the crowd of about 500 to disperse as protesters chanted Wright's name and climbed atop the police headquarters sign, by then covered in graffiti. Police used tear gas, flash bangs, and rubber bullets on the crowd.

According to the Star Tribune, "National Guard troops arrived just before midnight" to respond to break-ins and vandalism at a nearby shopping center.

As the newspaper reported:

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott issued a curfew order until 6 a.m. Monday. Precautions were being taken into Monday, with Brooklyn Center canceling or closing all school buildings, programs, and activities...

Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Minneapolis will wake up to more National Guard stationed around the city.

The ACLU of Minnesota called for an end to police violence and killings as well as "the over-policing and racial profiling that are endemic to our white supremacist system of policing."

"Police shootings are always tragic, and the situation here is made even more worse by this happening during a trial seeking justice for George Floyd," the organization added. "The ACLU of Minnesota is watching, and we will keep working to hold police accountable."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.