The policewoman who fatally shot a 20-year-old black man in a Minneapolis suburb accidentally confused her handgun with her taser, police said on Monday, fuelling tensions in a city already on edge because of the George Floyd murder trial. “The officer drew their handgun instead of their taser,” Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon said at a press conference about Sunday’s shooting of Daunte Wright.
Mr. Gannon said it was his belief that the officer, who has been placed on leave pending an investigation, “had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.” Family and friends of Daunte Wright hours after they say he was shot and killed by police Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, stands at the center.
“This was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” Mr. Gannon said. “There is nothing I can say to lessen the pain of Mr. Wright’s family.”
Mr. Gannon showed reporters police body camera video of the shooting, which sparked protests overnight in Brooklyn Center and looting of a shopping mall.
In the video, police officers pull Mr. Wright out of his car after stopping him for a traffic violation and discovering he had an outstanding warrant.
As Mr. Wright scuffles with the officers and gets back into the driver’s seat of the car, a female police officer shouts, “I’ll tase you,” and then “taser, taser, taser.”
“Holy shit, I shot him,” the officer says as Mr. Wright, fatally wounded, drives away.
The protests overnight prompted the defense attorney for former officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder and manslaughter charges for George Floyd’s death, to ask the judge presiding over the high-profile case to sequester the jury. Eric Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, said he was concerned that the protests over Mr. Wright’s death could influence the jurors. “A verdict, in this case, is going to have consequences,” Mr. Nelson said. “Will the jury be confident to make a decision regardless of the potential outcome of their decision?”
Prosecutors opposed the request to sequester the jury, and so did the judge.
This is a totally different case,” Judge Peter Cahill said.
“I’m not going to sequester them. We’ll sequester them on Monday when I anticipate doing closing,” he said, referring to closing arguments.
Mr. Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges for his role in Mr. Floyd’s death on 25 May 2020, which occurred during his arrest for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill. The 45-year-old Mr. Chauvin, white, was seen in a video taken by a bystander kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed 46-year-old black man repeatedly complained that he could not breathe. The video touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and worldwide.
Brooklyn Center, where Mr. Wright was shot, is a northwest suburb of Minneapolis located not far from the heavily guarded Hennepin County Government Center where Mr. Chauvin is on trial. Police fired tear gas and flash bangs to disperse a crowd of hundreds of people who gathered outside a police station in Brooklyn Center after Mr. Wright was shot.