Minnesota officer who shot Daunte Wright meant to draw Taser, not handgun, police chief says

Residents and community activists of Brooklyn Center, a suburb north of Minneapolis, call for justice in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.


The police chief of a Minneapolis suburb said Monday the officer who shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop a day earlier may have intended to use a Taser, not a firearm.

“It is my belief that the officer had their intention to deploy the Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,“ said Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, adding that he believes this was an ”accidental discharge.” The officer, he said, has been placed on administrative leave.

The shooting of a Black man as the trial of an officer charged with murdering George Floyd transfixes the nation has ignited tensions in the Minneapolis area with protesters — yet again — taking to the streets for racial justice.


Residents and activists of this suburb north of Minneapolis quickly pushed back on police, calling for justice for Wright, who officials said was unarmed.

“Daunte Wright is yet another young Black man killed at the hands of those who have sworn to protect and serve all of us — not just the whitest among us,” Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the Wright family, said. “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color? The growing number of Black men and women who have been killed or harmed by police is far too hefty a price for the equality we are seeking.”

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said Wright was killed “just north of where George Floyd was suffocated less than a year ago. Both were fathers, both were Black men, both died at the hands of police.”

“Whether it be carelessness and negligence, or a blatant modern-day lynching, the result is the same. Another Black man has died at the hands of police,” Johnson said.

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April 12, 2021

During a news conference Monday, Gannon played a video clip from the body camera of the police officer who fired the shot. The video showed police attempting to arrest Wright because of an outstanding warrant. Wright appeared to try to get into his car and drive away. What appeared to be a woman’s voice shouted, “Taser Taser Taser” before a gunshot was fired.

City officials took questions from a small number of reporters and community activists.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said he believes the officer, whose name has not been released, should be fired.


Elliot spoke with President Biden on Monday about the events unfolding here.

“I think we’ve got to wait and see what the investigation shows. The entire investigation,” Biden said from the Oval Office.

Biden said he watched the “fairly graphic” body camera footage from the officer who killed Wright.

“The question is whether it was an accident or intentional. That remains to be determined.”

Biden then stressed that there is “absolutely no justification for violence” in protest or otherwise.

“Peaceful protest is understandable. And the fact is that we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in the Black community in that environment is real, serious and consequential. But that does not justify violence.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday tweeted that he was praying for Wright’s family “as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”


A forensic pathologist says George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen that damaged his brain and caused his heart to stop, bolstering prior testimony.

April 9, 2021

In downtown Minneapolis on Monday, the third week of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial began in which the former officer is charged with murder and manslaughter.

A defense attorney for Chauvin requested that, because of the shooting in Brooklyn Center, jurors in the case be sequestered. Judge Peter Cahill denied the request and the trial proceeded with prosecutors calling a cardiologist to the stand who said Floyd died as a result of police use of force.

Ganguli, a special correspondent, reported from Brooklyn Center and Lee from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.