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12 Apr, 2021 18:26

Police chief says Daunte Wright shooting was ‘accidental discharge’ by officer

Police chief says Daunte Wright shooting was ‘accidental discharge’ by officer

The shooting of Daunte Wright, which kicked off violent protests in Minnesota, was an “accidental discharge” by an officer intending to use a taser, chief of Brooklyn Center Police Tim Gannon has said.

“As you can hear, the officer while struggling with Mr. Wright shouts, ‘taser, taser’ several times. That is a part of the officer's training prior to deploying a taser, which is a less lethal device,” Gannon told the press on Monday, showing the “graphic” police cam footage that included the shooting of 20-year-old Wright. 

Gannon went on to reveal that officers are trained to keep their firearms on their “dominant sides” and tasers on their “weak side” to avoid accidents. He said he believes the officer intended to use a taser but “instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”

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“This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer's reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge,” he continued. 

Wright was shot during a traffic stop on Sunday afternoon, immediately leading to criticism of the officers involved and inspiring protests in the state that quickly turned violent. 

Gannon said the traffic stop was over an expired registration, as well as an obstructive item – reportedly air fresheners – hanging from his rear view mirror. After running his ID, it was discovered Wright had a “gross misdemeanor warrant,” though Gannon did not detail the warrant further. 

The officer behind Wright's shooting is currently on administrative leave, and Gannon has asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Administration to conduct an independent investigation into the incident. He urged the public to remain calm until the investigation is over.

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Racial tensions had already been high in the state due to the ongoing trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, currently on trial for the murder of Georgia Floyd, whose death in May of last year kicked off a series of Black Lives Matter protests across the country.

The mayor of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Mike Elliott, admitted Wright’s death “couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”

“We recognize that this is happening at a time when our community – when all of America, indeed all of the world – is watching,” he said at a Monday press conference.

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