Biden says robbery and violence “not justified” in Minnesota police shooting of black Wright

A woman who was tear gassed during a standoff with police raises her arms outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Minnesota. This follows the local incident in which police shot and killed black man Duarte Wright. (April 12, 2021)

President Joe Biden said Monday (April 12) that there is “no justification” for the looting and violence that erupted in the wake of Sunday’s fatal police shooting in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.

“I call for peace and calm,” Biden told reporters at the White House, “and we should listen to Duarte’s mom, who called for peace and calm.”

Minnesota’s governor declared a curfew from 7 p.m. local time Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday at various locations in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan areas.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was killed Sunday afternoon during a police stop and check.

Brooklyn Center police said in a statement that officers asked the motorist to stop shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday. After discovering that the motorist had an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, police attempted to place him under arrest. The motorist returned to his vehicle and drove away. Police said an officer fired at the car, striking the motorist. The car traveled several blocks before hitting another vehicle.

On Monday, police said the officer shot Wright by accident, when she had thought she was using a Taser stun gun.

“The question is, was it an accident? Or was it intentional?” Biden asked Monday. He added that exactly what happened would need to be determined by the investigation.

At a press conference earlier Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon called the shooting an “accidental discharge” and said the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the incident.

Gannon also released video captured by the shooting police officer’s body camera. The video shows three officers surrounding a stopped car. A struggle ensues when another officer tries to handcuff Wright. The female officer can be heard yelling “Taser” several times before firing.

Cannon and Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, who also appeared at the press conference, both called the shooting “deeply sad” and vowed to do everything they can to ensure justice is served.

Brooklyn Center is a suburb of Minneapolis, just a few miles from the ongoing trial of a police officer accused of causing the death of George Floyd last May.

As with the highly publicized Floyd death, Wright’s death sparked protests Sunday night.

Demonstrators stand in a police car in protest after police shot and killed Wright, a black man, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (April 11, 2021)

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Director John Harrington said at a morning press conference that the crowd reportedly marched toward the Brooklyn Center Police Department. He said police reports and media reports indicate that rocks and other objects were thrown at the police station building, during which gunshots were reportedly heard locally.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) said he was closely tracking the situation. He added that he and his wife were praying for the Wright family “as our state mourns the loss of yet another black man to law enforcement.”

In an interview with reporters before the riots, Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, urged protesters to remain peaceful and to focus on her son’s death. She said he called her during a police traffic stop and that she heard him arguing with police.

Katie Wright said he told her, “All he did was have air freshener in the car and they told him to get out.” During the call, she said, she heard pushing and shoving, followed by someone saying, “Duarte, don’t run,” and then the call ended. When she called back, his girlfriend answered the phone and told her that Wright had been shot.