Stephen Maturen / Getty Images
At their first public press conference, the family of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man killed by police at Brooklyn Center, Minn, expressed grief and anger, called to account and questioned why police felt the need to use any force against their son. .
Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, recounted a phone call she had with her son when he called to seek advice after police withdrew him. She said he told her he was stopped because of air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror, minor violations of the law in Minnesota. Police officers have since said the reason for the stoppage was the expiration of the registration plates.
“I never imagined this would happen,” she said, crying. “That was the last time I heard from my son. And I haven’t had any explanation since.”
Police shot at Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday. Officials say that after the police withdrew it, they discovered an outstanding warrant arising from misdemeanor charges and attempted arrests. Wright got rid of the officer who tried to handcuff him, and then another officer shot him.
Police officers described Wright’s death as an “accident,” saying Officer Kim Potter mistakenly pulled out a gun instead of a Taser. Camera footage on the body camera shows Potter shouting “Taser!” before she shoots.
“They could have given him a ticket for it. But when there are blacks in America, they use force the most and it ends in deadly consequences,” said Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing both families.
At the press conference, Wright’s family was joined by Crump and several members of George Floyd’s family.
They stood together under light April snow in front of Hennepin County Court, where inside the trial of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who faces three counts of Floyd’s death, is nearing its closing arguments.
The Floyds and Wrights are two families linked by death, both mourning blacks who were victims of the use of force, 10 months and 12 miles apart.
“Can you blame Daunte for being scared as a Negro in police custody, when you just watched here in Minneapolis, George Floyd being killed by that very police?” said George’s nephew Brandon Floyd.
Both families have demanded consequences for Potter, a 26-year veteran of the forces. She resigned on Tuesday along with city police chief Tim Gannon.
Naisha Wright, Daunte’s aunt, said her resignation was “great,” but she hoped to see more. “Put her in jail, as any of us would do,” she said. “They would put us in that prison cell. [Firing a Taser] it would not be a coincidence. It would be murder. ”
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, spent Monday testifying at the trial of a man accused of killing his brother. He described their childhood and the shared grief at their mother’s funeral and cried when they showed him George’s photo with his mother.
“It’s a shame. The world is traumatized watching another African-American being killed,” he said, invoking the name of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Negro who was shot in the back as a police officer laid him down at Fruitvale Station in Oakland. The officer later said he intended to use his Taser.
“There was no need for even Tase,” Philonise Floyd said of both.
The police officer who killed Grant, Johannes Mehserle, was charged with second-degree murder and eventually convicted of murder. Other cases of Taser’s confusion resulted in shorter or no prison sentences for the officers involved. In the 2018 case in Kansas, the charges were dismissed. In Pennsylvania, the district attorney refused to file an indictment at all, saying the officer was “honest but mistaken” about his intention to use his Taser. The victim in that case, who survived, he is now leading a civil lawsuit.
“After 26 years, you’d think you knew which side your gun was on and which side your Taser was on. You know the weight of the rifle and the weight of the Taser. You know the gun is black, I know the Taser will have a reflective color on it. And that’s why it’s unacceptable.” said Crump.
Although the Brooklyn Center is in Hennepin County, the case is currently in the hands of neighboring Washington County. The local county attorney plans to make charges urgently, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The mayor of the Brooklyn Center, Mike Elliott, requested that the case be referred to the Attorney General.