Daunte Wright’s mother reveals last words to her before police shot him during traffic stop ‘over air freshener’

Katie Wright was on phone with son moments before he was shot dead by police

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 12 April 2021 19:09 BST
Daunte Wright: Protests after police shooting of 20-year-old black man

The 20-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police in northern Minneapolis called his mother as he was being pulled over moments before he was shot.

Katie Wright told reporters about the Sunday afternoon shooting: "All he did was have air fresheners in the car and they told him to get out of the car."

She said that she heard scuffling, the phone falling and an officer saying, "Daunte, don't run," before the end of the call. She called back and Daunte Wright's girlfriend answered and said that he had been shot dead.

Ms Wright said: "He got out of the car, and his girlfriend said they shot him. He got back in the car, and he drove away and crashed and now he's dead on the ground."

"Nobody will tell us anything. Nobody will talk to us... I said please take my son off the ground," she added. While at the scene on Sunday, she implored authorities to provide more information and to remove her son's body from the street. She also urged protesters to remain peaceful.

Ms Wright said: “He called me at about 1:30. He said he was getting pulled over by the police. And I said why you getting pulled over. And he said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rear-view mirror. I said, ‘OK take them down.'"

She added to local TV station KSTP: "He said, 'Mom, they want to know about insurance.' I said, 'When the police officer comes back to the window, put them on the phone and I will give them the insurance information.'

"Then I heard the police officer come to window and say, 'Put the phone down and get out of the car' and Daunte said, 'Why?' He said, 'We'll explain to you when you get out of the car.'"

The Chief of the Brooklyn Center Police Department Tim Gannon said that an officer had shot the man after pulling over his vehicle for a traffic violation and discovering that he had a warrant out for his arrest. Chief Gannon said that Mr Wright stepped back into his vehicle as police tried to detain him. This was when the officer discharged his weapon according to police, The New York Times reported.

The car drove on for several blocks before crashing into another vehicle, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A woman in that vehicle was taken to hospital with injuries not thought to be life-threatening, KSTP reported.

Investigators say they believe there's body- and dashcam footage of the incident and calls have been made for the release of the footage.

Hundreds of people, who had gathered to protest, clashed with the police. Outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department in northern Minneapolis, officers used rubber bullets and chemical irritants to stave off the crowd.

Some protesters threw rocks, bags of garbage, and water bottles at police officers.

Ms Wright told the assembled crowd: “All the violence, if it keeps going it’s only going to be about the violence. We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason. We need to make sure it’s about him and not about smashing police cars, because that’s not going to bring my son back."

She told KSTP: "He was only 20 years old, he didn't deserve to be shot and killed for this. I don't want all of this, all of this. I just want my baby home."

Mr Wright was charged twice with a petty misdemeanour in August 2019 for selling cannabis and for disorderly conduct. He was also charged with aggregated robbery in February, The Daily Beast reported. Hennepin County jail records says that his release from custody was conditional.

With tensions already running high, the shooting took place on the 11th day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white police officer charged with murdering George Floyd. Mr Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests.

National Guard troops were brought in just before midnight as the Brooklyn Center Walmart and a nearby shopping mall was being looted.

Shortly after 11pm on Sunday night, Minnesota governor Tim Walz tweeted: "I am closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center...our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement."

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott issued a curfew until 6am Monday morning. Enforcement of the curfew was mostly unsuccessful.

He said: "Our entire community is filled with grief following today's officer-involved shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old young man. Our hearts are with his family, and with all those in our community impacted by this tragedy."

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