Minnesota Officer Shoots Driver, and Protesters Clash With Police

The Four Percent

[Minnesota officials said the police officer who fatally shot a Black man at a traffic stop did so accidentally, and meant to fire a Taser instead. Read the latest updates here.]

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — A 20-year-old Black man died after a police officer shot him during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday, sending hundreds of people into the streets where they clashed with police officers into Monday morning.

The protests in Brooklyn Center came hours before the 11th day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with murdering George Floyd, began in a courtroom less than 10 miles away.

Outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Sunday night, smoke billowed into the air as a line of police officers fired rubber bullets and chemical agents at protesters, some of whom lobbed rocks, bags of garbage and water bottles at the police. Mayor Mike Elliott of Brooklyn Center ordered a curfew until 6 a.m., and the local school superintendent said the district would move to remote learning on Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”

Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said an officer had shot the man on Sunday afternoon after pulling his car over for a traffic violation and discovering that the driver had a warrant out for his arrest. As the police tried to detain the man, he stepped back into his car, at which point an officer shot him, Chief Gannon said.

The man’s car then traveled for several blocks and struck another vehicle, after which the police and medical workers pronounced him dead. Chief Gannon did not give any information on the officer who fired or say how severe the crash had been, though the passengers in the other car were not injured. Chief Gannon said he believed that officers’ body cameras had been turned on during the shooting.

The chief did not say what the warrant had been for, but court records indicate that a judge issued it earlier this month when Mr. Wright missed a court appearance. He was facing two misdemeanor charges after Minneapolis police said he had carried a pistol without a permit and had run away from officers last June.

Mr. Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters that her son had been driving a car that his family had just given him two weeks ago and that he had called her as he was being pulled over.

“He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror,” she said. Ms. Wright added that her son had been driving with his girlfriend when he was shot. The police said a woman in the car had been hurt in the crash but that her injuries were not life-threatening.

Chief Gannon said he had asked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency that led the inquiry into Mr. Floyd’s death, to investigate the shooting.

Ms. Wright, the victim’s mother, said that when her son had called her during the traffic stop, she had urged him to give his phone to a police officer so she could give the insurance information.

“Then I heard the police officer come to the window and say, ‘Put the phone down and get out of the car,’” she said.

She said her son had dropped the phone or put it down, after which she heard “scuffling” and an officer telling Mr. Wright not to run. Then, she said, someone hung up the phone. When she called back, her son’s girlfriend answered and told her that he had been shot.

At an earlier protest and vigil near the scene of Mr. Wright’s death, his mother had urged the protesters to be peaceful.

“We want justice for Daunte,” she said. “We don’t want it to be about all this violence.”

But hours later, outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, protesters chanted and threw things at police officers, inching closer to the building until they were pushed back when police officers fired projectiles that burst with a loud bang and gas that burned their throats and eyes. The gas reached several apartment buildings across the street where families said they were shaken by the conflict that erupted in their front yards.

“We had to shut the doors because it was all in my house,” Tasha Nethercutt, a woman who lives in one of the apartments, said of the gas fired by the police. She said there were four children in her apartment during the unrest, including a two-year-old.

Kimberly Lovett, who until recently had been a property manager for the four apartment buildings near the police station, said she had driven to the area to check on her former tenants and to show her frustration with the police.

“There are kids in all of these buildings,” she said, pointing toward apartment balconies, some of which had children’s toys scattered on them. “What we’re fed up with is the police steady killing young Black men.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reported from Brooklyn Center, Minn., and Azi Paybarah from New York. Matt Furber contributed reporting from Brooklyn Center, and Neil Vigdor from Greenwich, Conn.

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