(BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn.) — A traffic stop quickly turned deadly Sunday when a white Minnesota police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man.
Kim Potter, 48, meant to deploy her Taser instead of her gun when she fatally shot Wright in his car, according to then-Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon. Two days after the incident, both she and Gannon resigned, and Potter has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
The shooting, which Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called “deeply tragic,” has sparked days of protests in the Minneapolis suburb, as the murder trial for another police killing of an unarmed Black man — George Floyd — is underway nearby. The Wright family’s lawyers have called the use of force “no accident.”
Here’s what we know about the fatal incident so far:
On Sunday afternoon, Wright was pulled over for an expired registration tag while driving his white Buick in Brooklyn Center, which is about 10 miles northwest of Minneapolis, with a female passenger. The traffic stop occurred at approximately 1:53 p.m. at 63rd Avenue North and Orchard Avenue North, according to the criminal complaint against Potter.
Wright called his mother during the traffic stop to tell her police just pulled him over. His mother, Katie Wright, told ABC News’ Good Morning America Tuesday that her son said he was pulled over “because I had air fresheners hanging in the rearview mirror,” and that he needed the car insurance information. She said she told him to take the air fresheners down and to let her speak with police over the phone so she could give them the insurance details.
Then, she said she heard police ask her son to step out of the vehicle.
One of the officers at the scene was Brooklyn Center Police Officer Anthony Luckey, according to the criminal complaint. Luckey had run a record check and found Wright had a warrant for his arrest over a gross misdemeanor weapons charge, according to the complaint.
At 2:01 p.m. Luckey approached the driver’s side of Wright’s car and asked him to exit it and place his hands behind his back, according to the complaint.
Wright’s mother was still on the phone at this point, she said.
“Daunte said, ‘For what, am I in trouble?’ and the officer said, ‘We’re gonna explain that when you step out of the car.’ And they asked him to put the phone down. I heard the phone getting put down pretty hard,” she told GMA.
Wright exited his car “and initially followed commands,” the criminal complaint stated. “Officer Luckey told the victim that he was being arrested for his outstanding warrant.”
The two were standing next to the open driver’s side door as Luckey was attempting to handcuff Wright, when Wright tried to reenter the car, body-worn camera footage released by the Brooklyn Center Police Department shows.
“I heard scuffling and the girl that was with him screaming, and I heard an officer ask for them to hang up the phone and then I didn’t hear anything else,” Wright’s mother told GMA.
‘Taser, Taser, Taser!’
Luckey’s training officer, Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, had also approached the driver’s side door as Wright was being taken into custody. As he struggled to get back into the car, Potter can be heard in the bodycam footage yelling, “I’ll Tase you, I’ll Tase you!” as she held her Glock 9mm handgun in her right hand and pointed it at Wright.
Potter yelled, “Taser, Taser, Taser!” before pulling the trigger on her gun at 2:02 p.m., “firing one round into the left side of the victim,” according to the criminal complaint. Wright said, “Ah, he shot me” before driving off, according to the complaint.
As the car sped away, Potter can be heard in the bodycam footage saying, “S—, I just shot him!”
Wright’s mother told GMA she tried to call back several times “and then the girl that was with him answered the phone and she said that they shot him and he was laying in the driver’s seat unresponsive.”
“And then I heard an officer ask her to hang up the phone again and then after that, that’s the last time I’ve seen my son. I haven’t seen him since,” she said.
On Monday, Gannon told reporters that based on the footage and Potter’s “reaction and distress immediately after,” he believed the shooting to be an accidental discharge.
According to the criminal complaint, Potter’s handgun was holstered on the right side of her duty belt and her Taser, which is yellow with a black grip, on the left. The Taser was “set in a straight-draw position, meaning the defendant would have to use her left hand to draw the Taser out of its holster,” according to the complaint.
Dead at the scene
Wright drove a short distance before striking another vehicle, police said. Responding medical personnel attempted lifesaving measures, but Wright was pronounced dead at the scene.
A woman who Wright’s mother told reporters was his girlfriend suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the crash. The occupants of the car that was struck were uninjured.
A preliminary report released Monday by the Hennepin County medical examiner said Wright died from a gunshot wound to the chest, and that his death was a homicide.
His time of death was listed as 2:18 p.m., at 63rd Avenue North and Kathrene Drive in Brooklyn Center.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting. Potter, who made her first court appearance Thursday, is scheduled to return to court May 17.
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