Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgun

Man shot and killed during traffic stop
Man shot and killed during traffic stop

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. – The police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun, as the man struggled with police, the city’s police chief said Monday, as police clashed with protesters for the second night in a row.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting death Sunday of 20-year-old Daunte Wright as “an accidental discharge.” It happened as police were trying to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant. The shooting sparked protests and unrest in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.

“I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” the officer is heard shouting on her body cam footage released at a news conference. She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.

After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away, and the officer is heard saying, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”

Crowds began gathering outside the the Brooklyn Center police station late Monday afternoon, with hundreds there by nightfall despite the governor’s dusk-to-dawn curfew. A drum beat incessantly, and the crowd broke into frequent chants of “Daunte Wright!” Some shouted obscenities at officers.

About 90 minutes after the curfew deadline, police began firing gas canisters and flash-bang grenades, sending clouds wafting over the crowd and chasing some away. Some protesters picked up smoke canisters and threw them back toward police. Others shot fireworks toward police lines. A long line of police in riot gear, rhythmically pushing their clubs in front of them, began slowly forcing back the remaining crowds.

“Move back!" the police chanted. “Hands up! Don't shoot!" the crowd chanted back.

By 10 p.m., only a few dozen protesters remained.