In a Minneapolis suburb, police and protesters clashed again Monday after a black motorist was shot dead by a police officer during a check-up on Sunday. According to the local police chief, the officer’s service weapon “accidentally” went off.
After a wake for the 20-year-old victim, Daunte Wright, on Monday evening, as a day earlier, furious protesters stood before the police, around the Brooklyn Center police station. The officers fired tear gas after curfew, some protesters threw stones and water bottles. Further up in the Minneapolis suburb, shops were looted.
Police Chief Tim Gannon from Brooklyn Center said on Monday that the officer who shot Wright wanted to fire her taser. ‘I understand that the officer intended to use the taser, but instead shot Wright with a single bullet, ” said Gannon. He spoke of the accidental firing of the handgun. How this happened is now being investigated. The officer, a woman with 26 years of experience who is also chairman of the local police union, has been temporarily sent on administrative leave.
The mayor of Brooklyn Center, African-American Mike Elliott, took charge of the police on Monday with the city council’s approval. He then dismissed the municipal director who believes that the agent has the right to be heard before any further action is taken. Elliott wants to fire the officer immediately.
The shooting occurred on Sunday afternoon about 10 miles from the scene where George Floyd died last year under the knee of a white police officer. The atmosphere in Minneapolis is already extremely charged because of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who restrained Floyd with fatal consequences.
A crowd of angry protesters marched on Sunday night at the Brooklyn Center police station, which is facing Minneapolis. The protesters raided the building with stones, while the police tried to keep them at bay with tear gas and rubber bullets. According to police, shots were also fired at the building, crushing the glass from the front doors. Two police cars were also destroyed.
Wright was shot, according to his mother, after calling her to say that he had been stopped by the police because he had an air freshener on his rearview mirror. It’s illegal in Minnesota. On her phone the woman heard how the police ordered him to get out of his car, after which she heard that apparently a scuffle broke out.
His girlfriend later reported that he was shot while sitting in the driver’s seat.
Footage from the body camera of one of the officers shows that Wright tried to escape with his car after the officers tried to cuff him. They did so, according to the police, after they had discovered that there was a warrant for his arrest (for a minor offense). After he was hit by the police bullet, Wright still drove off. But a few blocks away, he collided with another car and died behind the wheel.
The Civil Rights Movement American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) demands an independent investigation into the incident. According to the ACLU, police often abuse petty traffic violations to arrest black drivers.
The authorities have called for calm. They fear a new wave of protests and riots, especially now that the trial against Chauvin is underway. His lawyers blame Floyd’s death on drug abuse, but a whole line of witnesses, including the Minneapolis police chief, have stated in the past week that Floyd died as a result of the officer’s excessive actions.
Floyd’s death last year sparked a wave of protests and riots in many American cities. Especially in Minneapolis, the call for drastic changes was voiced by the police, under the slogan: ‘Defund the police’.
Shooting incidents involving officers invoking a mistake between taser and service pistol are more common. In 2015 Eric Harris was shot in the back in Tulsa by an agent, who immediately muttered something of ‘I shot him, sorry’. This officer was convicted of manslaughter and served four years in prison. He was released after a year and a half.