Police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, said in a statement that officers pulled a driver over for a traffic violation at around 2 p.m. on Sunday, then learned that he had an outstanding warrant. They began to arrest him, but “the driver re-entered the vehicle,” and then an officer shot him.
Police did not release the victim's name, but Katie Wright identified him as her son, 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
The shooting led hundreds of people to gather in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department headquarters on Sunday night. Police fired tear gas, projectiles, and flash-bang grenades at protesters, as captured by pictures and videos tweeted from the scene. Later, at around 11:30 p.m., police declared the protests “unlawful” and threatened to arrest anyone who remained, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington claimed on Monday morning that about 20 businesses had been looted.
Earlier in the day, hundreds had congregated at the scene of Wright’s death. Police officers arrived in riot gear, according to Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Kim Hyatt. Some protesters smashed police car windshields, and a police officer shot a man with a rubber bullet, Hyatt tweeted.
Wright’s mother, Katie, said her son was taking his new car to get it cleaned when he was pulled over by police, according to a tweet by MPR News reporter Tim Nelson. In a video shared on Facebook Live, Katie Wright said he was pulled over for having air fresheners in his car. (In some states, it's illegal to dangle air fresheners from a rearview mirror.)
Brooklyn Center police did not disclose a specific "traffic violation" in its statement. The officers involved were wearing body cameras, which police believe "were activated during this incident."
Wright’s girlfriend was reportedly in the car at the time of the shooting. Brooklyn Center police said a female passenger in the car was treated for injuries at a local hospital.
Wright is the father of a young child, Daunte Jr., who will turn 2 years old in July, according to Star Tribune reporter Kim Hyatt.
Wright’s death comes at a time of heightened tension in and around Minneapolis, with a verdict looming for the May 2020 killing of George Floyd. Floyd's death sparked a surge of protests around the country last year, and police around the country responded to these protests with violence.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed Floyd, has been on trial for murder since early March. When the trial began government buildings in Minneapolis were surrounded by barricades and fences, and authorities called in thousands of police officers and National Guard members.
The National Guard arrived in Brooklyn Center on Monday morning in the wake of Sunday's shooting, according to Star Tribune reporter Andy Mannix. Harrington, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said state troopers are also being deployed to the area, and state officials are considering a curfew, according to Minneapolis Public Radio reporter Tim Nelson.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a statewide agency that aids in certain state and local police investigations, tweeted Sunday that agents are en route to Brooklyn Center to investigate the shooting.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted Sunday that he was “closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center” and is “praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott tweeted Sunday that the shooting was “tragic.” He asked protesters to be peaceful, and for police to not respond with force.
Brooklyn Center police did not respond to a request for comment.