The family of a 20-year-old Minnesota man told a crowd that he was shot by police Sunday before getting back into his car and driving away, then crashing the vehicle several blocks away. The family of Daunte Wright said he was later pronounced dead.
Officials from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said the agency was on the scene of a shooting involving a police officer in Brooklyn Center on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Wrights demanded answers from police.
The incident, which sparked protests late into Sunday night, happened with Minneapolis already on edge and midway through the trial of the first of four police officers in George Floyd’s death. Brooklyn Center is a city with a population of about 30,000 people located on the northwest border of Minneapolis.
“I am closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center. Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement posted late Sunday night on Twitter.
According to a statement from Brooklyn Center Police, officers stopped an individual shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday after determining the driver had an outstanding warrant. Police said when they tried to arrest the driver, the driver reentered the vehicle and drove away. An officer fired at the vehicle, striking the driver. Police said the vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle.
Police did not identify the driver who was shot but said the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office will release the person’s name following a preliminary autopsy and family notification. A female passenger sustained non-life threatening injuries during the crash.
A police officer was also transported to the hospital after sustaining injuries, according to EMS audio, the Star-Tribune reported. By Sunday evening, about 100 people had gathered near the scene, according to the newspaper, but they were later dispersed.
Public mourners included Wright’s family and friends who gathered, wept and consoled each other alongside protesters who carried “Black Lives Matter” flags, jumped atop police cars, confronted officers and walked peacefully in columns with their hands held up. On one street, written in multi-colored chalk: “Justice for Duante Wright.”
Late Sunday night, Brooklyn Center police fired gas into a crowd of protesters who had gathered outside the police station. No reports of damage, injuries or arrests were immediately available.
“The officer shooting in Brooklyn Center today is tragic. We are asking the protesters to continue to be peaceful and that peaceful protesters are not dealt with force,” Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said on Twitter.
Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, tearfully pleaded for more information regarding the incident and for her son’s body to be moved from the street.
A woman who lives near the crash scene, Carolyn Hanson, said she saw law enforcement officers pull a man out of a vehicle and perform CPR. A passenger who got out of the car was also covered in blood, Hanson said.
Police said Brooklyn Center officers wear body-worn cameras and they also believe dash cameras were activated during the incident. The Brooklyn Center Police Department said it has asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate.
No further information was immediately available.