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Second night of protests in Minneapolis after black man killed by police
13 April 2021, 11:04
Police chiefs said the officer involved had meant to use a Taser rather than a handgun during the incident.
Police have clashed with protesters for a second night in a Minneapolis suburb where an officer shot a black man dead during a traffic stop.
Brooklyn Centre police chief Tim Gannon described the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday as “an accidental discharge”, saying that the officer involved apparently intended to fire a Taser, not a handgun.
The shooting sparked protests and unrest in an area of the state of Minnesota already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged over George Floyd’s death.
Hundreds of protesters faced off against police in Brooklyn Centre after nightfall on Monday, hours after a dusk-to-dawn curfew was announced by the governor.
When the protesters would not disperse, police began firing gas canisters and flash grenades, sending clouds wafting over the crowd and chasing some protesters away.
A long line of police in riot gear, rhythmically pushing their clubs in front of them, began slowly forcing back the remaining crowds.
Law enforcement agencies had stepped up their presence across the Minneapolis area after violence on Sunday night.
The number of Minnesota National Guard troops was expected to more than double to 1,000-plus by Monday night.
Authorities released body camera footage that showed the officer involved – named later as 26-year veteran Kim Potter – shouting at Mr Wright as police tried to arrest him.
“I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” she can be heard saying.
She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.
After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away and the officer is heard saying: “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”
Brooklyn Centre mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic” and said the officer should be sacked.
He said: “We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole.”
Mr Elliott later announced that the city council had voted to give his office “command authority” over the police department.
This “will streamline things and establish a chain of command and leadership”, he wrote on Twitter.
He also said the city manager had been sacked, and that the deputy city manager would take over his duties.
The reason behind the firing was not immediately clear, but the city manager controls the police department, according to the city’s charter.
Now-former city manager Curt Boganey, speaking earlier to reporters, declined to say whether he believed the officer should be fired, and that she would get “due process” after the shooting.
Brooklyn Centre is a modest suburb just north of Minneapolis that has seen its demographics shift dramatically in recent years.
In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Today, a majority of residents are black, Asian or Latino.
Mr Elliott, the city’s first black mayor, immigrated from Liberia as a child. On Monday night, he was joined by Keith Ellison, the state’s first Black attorney general, in addressing a group of protesters not far from the police department – telling the demonstrators to use their voices, but remain safe.
“We are going to get to the bottom of this, we are going to make sure that there’s justice, that there’s officers held accountable,” Mr Elliott told protesters on video posted by a reporter for Minneapolis television station KARE.
Mr Ellison reminded the crowd he currently is leading the prosecution of the the first officer charged over George Floyd’s death, and promised Mr Wright’s death will not be “swept under the rug”.
Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said in a statement.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, identified the officer as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran who has been placed on administrative leave.
Mr Gannon would not say whether she would be sacked, but said: “I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning.”
Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.
Mr Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as he was getting pulled over.
During the call, she said she heard scuffling and then someone saying: “Daunte, don’t run,” before the call ended.
When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and said he had been shot.
His brother, Dallas Bryant, told about a hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil on Monday evening that Mr Wright sounded scared during the phone call, and questioned how the officer could mistake a gun for a Taser.
“You know the difference between plastic and metal. We all know it,” he said.
Demonstrators began to gather shortly after the shooting, with some jumping on top of police cars.
Marchers also descended on the city’s police headquarters, throwing rocks and other objects. About 20 businesses were broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping centre, authorities said.
The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in Mr Floyd’s death, continued on Monday.
Mr Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Mr Floyd’s neck.
Prosecutors say Floyd was pinned for nine minutes, 29 seconds.