President Joe Biden on Monday weighed in on the situation in Minnesota after Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, died after being shot by police officers over the weekend.
Wright died Sunday in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis. His death sparked violent protests, with officers in riot gear clashing with demonstrators into Monday morning.
Biden addressed both the shooting and its aftermath from the White House on Monday afternoon, saying he has watched the "fairly graphic" body camera footage of the incident, but has yet to reach out to the Wright family.
“Question is: Was it an accident or intentional? That remains to be determined,” Biden said, adding: “In the meantime, I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification—none—for looting. No justification for violence. Peaceful protest? Understandable.”
The president added that his “prayers are with” the Wright family, and while the "anger, pain and trauma" felt in the Black community is understandable, it “does not justify violence.”
“We should listen to Dante's mom, who is calling for peace and calm,” the president said. He added there are already federal resources deployed to the state to keep the peace, but did not specify what support his administration provided.
Hours before the president spoke, authorities in Minnesota said that the officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday meant to deploy their taser instead.
"This appears to me, from what I viewed & the officer's reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge," Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said at a press conference Monday.
The incident took place during a traffic stop, as police were trying to arrest Wright on a warrant.
Police body camera footage shown at the press conference shouting "I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!" prior to the shooting. She then drew her weapon as the man broke free and got back behind the wheel of his car.
The officer fired a single shot from her gun, and the car sped away. The officer said, "Holy ****, I just shot him."
"For informational purposes we train with our handguns on our dominant side, and our taser on our weak side," Chief Gannon said. "If you're right-handed you carry your firearm on your right side and carry your taser on the left. This is done purposefully, and it's trained."
The officer, described by Chief Gannon as "a very senior officer," has been placed on administrative leave.
Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June. In that case, a statement of probable cause said police got a call about a man waving a gun who was later identified as Wright.”
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as he was getting pulled over.
“All he did was have air fresheners in the car, and they told him to get out of the car,” Wright said. During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying “Daunte, don’t run” before the call ended. When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and said he had been shot.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic.”
“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole,” he said.
Wright’s family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family in its $27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis.
“This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane,” Crump said in a statement. “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color?”
Speaking before the unrest Sunday night, Wright’s mother urged protesters in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis, to stay peaceful and focused on the loss of her son.
As the city continues to react to the shooting and unrest, the Minnesota Twins announced that they have postponed their game against the Boston Red Sox on Monday.
"Out of respect for the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Brooklyn Center, and following the additional details in this evolving situation, the Minnesota Twins have decided it is in the best interests of our fans, staff, players and community to not play today’s game," the team said in a statement.
"The Minnesota Twins organization extends its sympathies to the family of Daunte Wright," they concluded.
The Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA and Minnesota Wild of the NHL later followed suit.
Crowds of mourners and protesters gathered in a Minneapolis suburb where the family of a 20-year-old man said he died after being shot by police before getting back into his car and driving away, then crashing several blocks away. The family of Daunte Wright said he was later pronounced dead.
The death sparked protests in Brooklyn Center into the early hours of Monday morning, and stores were broken into, as Minneapolis was already on edge and midway through the trial of the first of four police officers in George Floyd’s death. Brooklyn Center is a city of about 30,000 people located on the northwest border of Minneapolis.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted he was praying for Wright's family “as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”
Police didn't immediately identify Wright or disclose his race, but some protesters who gathered near the scene waved flags and signs reading “Black Lives Matter.” Others walked peacefully with their hands held up. On one street, written in multi-colored chalk: “Justice for Daunte Wright.”
Demonstrators gathered shortly after the shooting and crash, with some jumping on top of police cars and confronting officers. Marchers also descended upon the Brooklyn Center police department building, where rocks and other objects were thrown at officers, Minnesota Department of Public Safety commissioner John Harrington said at a news conference. The protesters had largely dispersed by 1:15 a.m. Monday, he said.
Harrington added that about 20 businesses had been broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping center. He said law enforcement agencies were coordinating to tame the unrest, and the National Guard was activated.
Brooklyn Center police said in a statement that officers had stopped a motorist shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday. After determining the driver had an outstanding warrant, police tried to arrest the driver. The driver reentered the vehicle and an officer fired at the vehicle, striking the driver, police said. The vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle.
Police said the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office will release the person’s name following a preliminary autopsy and family notification. A female passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the crash.
Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, huddled with loved ones near the scene and pleaded for her son's body to be removed from the street, the Star Tribune reported. She said her son had called her when he was getting pulled over, and she heard scuffling before the call ended. When she called back, she said his girlfriend told her that her son had been shot.
Carolyn Hanson lives near the crash scene and told the newspaper that she saw officers pull the man out of the car and perform CPR. Hanson said a passenger who got out was covered in blood.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott announced a curfew in the city until 6 a.m. Monday. In a tweet he said, “We want to make sure everyone is safe. Please be safe and please go home.”
Police said Brooklyn Center officers wear body-worn cameras and they also believe dash cameras were activated during the incident. The department said it has asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate.
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in Floyd's death, was slated to continue Monday. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck. Prosecutors say Floyd was pinned for 9 minutes, 29 seconds.
Harrington said more National Guard members would be deployed around the city and in Brooklyn Center.