A US police officer who fatally shot a black man in his car in a Minneapolis suburb intended to fire a taser, not a handgun, the city’s police chief said.
- After firing a single round, the officer exclaims: “I shot him!”
- The officer’s chief wouldn’t say if she would lose her job
- Mr Wright was pulled over because his car’s registration had expired
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright as “an accidental discharge”.
It occurred as police were trying to arrest Mr Wright on an outstanding warrant.
The shooting has sparked violent protests in a metropolitan area already on edge because of the trial of the first of four police officers charged over George Floyd’s death.
“I’ll tase you! I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” the officer is heard shouting on her body cam footage.
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 exclaiming: “Holy shit! I shot him!”
Protests errupt in Minnesota after the fatal shooting of Mr Wright.
Mr Gannon said at a news conference that the officer made a mistake.
Mr Gannon released the body camera footage less than 24 hours after the shooting.
The footage showed three officers around a stopped car, which authorities said was pulled over because it had expired registration tags.
When another officer attempted to handcuff Mr Wright, a second officer told Mr Wright he was being arrested on a warrant.
That’s when the struggle begins, followed by the shooting. The car then travels several blocks before striking another vehicle.
Ms Wright recounts the final words she spoke with her son as police pulled him over.
“As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s command, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet,” Mr Gannon said.
“This appears to me from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr Wright.”
A female passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the crash, authorities said.
Katie Wright said that passenger was her son’s girlfriend.
Ms Wright said her son called her as he was getting pulled over, and that the officers told him to get out of the car.
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.
Police won’t confirm if officer will lose job
An overnight curfew has been imposed after protesters and police clashed.(AP: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune
Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman said any decision on charges against the officer would be made by the Washington County attorney under an agreement adopted last year by several county prosecutors aimed at avoiding conflicts of interest.
Mr Freeman has been frequently criticised by activists in Minneapolis over his charging decisions involving deadly use of force by police.
Mr Gannon would not name the officer or provide any other details about her, including her race, other than describing her as “very senior”.
He would not say whether she would be sacked following the investigation.
“I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning,” the chief said.
Court records show Mr 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.
‘Preventable and inhumane’
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott says the fatal shooting of Mr Wright is “deeply tragic”.
President Joe Biden urged calm on Monday, following a night where officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators.
The President said he had watched the body camera footage.
“We do know that the anger, pain and trauma amidst the black community is real,” Mr Biden said from the Oval Office.
But, he added, that “does not justify violence and looting”.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic”.
“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole,” he said.
Mr Wright’s family hired civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family in its $US27 million ($35.4 million) settlement with the city of Minneapolis.
“This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane,” Mr Crump said in a statement.
“What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of colour?”
Some protesters threw rocks at police and about 20 businesses were broked into, according to authorities.(AP:Christian Monterrosa
Speaking before the unrest on Sunday night, Mr Wright’s mother urged protesters in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the north-west border of Minneapolis, to stay peaceful and focused on the loss of her son.
National Guard members and state law enforcement personnel were to be deployed, and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a curfew from 7:00pm Monday (local time) until 6:00am Tuesday for Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis and the capital of St Paul.
Shortly after the shooting, demonstrators began to gather, with some jumping atop police cars.
Marchers also descended on the Brooklyn Center Police Department, where rocks and other objects were thrown at officers, while about 20 businesses were broken into, authorities said.