BROOKLYN CENTER, Minnesota (AP) — Crowds of mourners and protesters gathered in a Minnesota city where the family of a 20-year-old man say he was shot by police before getting back into his car and driving away, then crashing several blocks away. The family of Daunte Wright said he was later pronounced dead.
The death sparked protests in Brooklyn Center into the early hours of Monday morning as Minneapolis was already on edge and midway through the trial of the first of four police officers in the killing of George Floyd. Brooklyn Center is a city of about 30,000 people located on the northwest border of Minneapolis.
John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said at a middle-of-the-night news conference that marchers had descended upon the Brooklyn Center police department building after the Sunday afternoon shooting. Rocks and other objects were thrown at officers but the protesters had largely dispersed as of 1:15 a.m. Monday, he said.
Harrington added that about 20 businesses had been broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping center. He said law enforcement agencies were coordinating to tame the unrest, and the National Guard was activated.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott announced a curfew in the city until 6 a.m. Monday. In a tweet he said, “We want to make sure everyone is safe. Please be safe and please go home.”
Brooklyn Center police said in a statement that officers had stopped an individual shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday. After determining the driver had an outstanding warrant, police 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.
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.
Public mourners included Wright’s family and friends who gathered, wept and consoled each other alongside protesters who jumped atop police cars, confronted officers, carried “Black Lives Matter” flags, and walked peacefully in columns with their hands held up. On one street, written in multi-colored chalk: “Justice for Daunte Wright.”
By late Sunday, Brooklyn Center police had fired gas into the crowd of protesters who had gathered outside the police station. Flash bangs were also used to disperse protesters overnight.
“I am closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Center,” Gov. Tim Walz tweeted late Sunday. “Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright’s family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”
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.
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in George Floyd’s death, was slated to continue Monday. Harrington, the public safety commissioner, said more National Guard members would be deployed around the city and in Brooklyn Center.