Protests broke out in the US city of Minneapolis after a policeman fatally shot a young Black man near where George Floyd was killed last year.
Hundreds of people, some visibly upset and one carrying a sign demanding “Justice for George Floyd,” confronted police in riot gear on Sunday night, hours after the officer shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright in his car in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.
Brooklyn Center police set off flash bangs and fired tear gas into the crowd of protesters who had gathered outside the police station. National Guard troops were deployed just before midnight, the Star Tribune newspaper reported.
The latest shooting happened with Minneapolis already on edge and midway through the trial of the first of four police officers in Floyd’s death. The unarmed Black man’s killing sparked months of protests in the United States against racism and police brutality and attracted international outrage.
The man’s mother, Katie Wright, told a crowd earlier in the day that Wright called her to say he had been pulled over by police. She said she heard officers tell her son to put his phone down, and then one of the officers ended the call.
Soon after, her son’s girlfriend told her he had been shot.
Here’s more from the mother: pic.twitter.com/L1rtYSiMUP
— Kim Hyatt (@kimvhyatt) April 11, 2021
“All he did was have air fresheners in the car and they told him to get out of the car,” Wright said.
“He got out of the car and his girlfriend said they shot him,” she said. “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.”
Mother Katie Wright sent me this photo of her son with her grandson Daunte Jr. He’ll be 2 years old in July. pic.twitter.com/w07STKOmks
— Kim Hyatt (@kimvhyatt) April 11, 2021
The Brooklyn Center police, in a statement, said officers pulled over a driver for a traffic violation on Sunday afternoon. When they discovered he had an outstanding warrant, they tried to take him into custody.
He got back into his car and one of the officers fired their weapon, striking the driver.
The vehicle travelled several blocks before striking another vehicle, police said, adding both officers’ body cameras were activated during the incident.
The driver died at the scene, the statement said.
A female passenger in the car suffered “non-life threatening injuries” from the crash and was transported to a local hospital.
By Sunday evening about 100 people had gathered near the scene, according to the Star Tribune.
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, “Justice for Daunte Wright” was written in multi-coloured chalk.
Mike Elliott, the mayor of Brooklyn Center, called the shooting “tragic”.
“We are asking the protesters to continue to be peaceful and that peaceful protesters are not dealt with force,” he said on Twitter.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he was monitoring the situation closely.
“Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement,” he said on Twitter.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota described the initial details of the shooting as “troubling”.
“The ACLU-MN has deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target Black people,” the group said in a statement. “The warrant appears to be for a non-felony.”
It called for a “transparent and independent investigation by an outside agency other than the Brooklyn Center Police”.
The ACLU also appealed for the “quick release of any body-cam footage” and “the naming of all officers and agencies involved”.