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Daunte Wright Didn’t Deserve To Be Killed By Minneapolis Police — #SayHisName

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Daunte Wright

Daunte Wright, a young Black man, was shot and killed by Minnesota police officers during a routine traffic stop in Brooklyn Center on Sunday, April 11, igniting protests in Minneapolis.

While one of the most-watched police trials in history continues in that very city, police officers claimed another Black life — just 10 miles from the court house where Derek Chauvin's trial for the death of George Floyd is in progress.

Wright, who was just 20 years old, is believed to have been on his way to visit his brother with his girlfriend, driving a car that was gifted to him by his family last month when he was stopped by police.

His untimely death at the hands of law enforcement is igniting cries to "Say his name," as the country is rocked by the unwarranted killing of yet another unarmed Black man.

Why did a Minneapolis police officer shoot Daunte Wright?

Police initially said Wright was pulled over for a minor traffic violation, and that they tried to take him into custody after learning there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

In video obtained from police body cam footage, an officer can be seen approaching the driver's side of the car, asking Wright to step out and saying "You're being arrested." As the officer is attempting to place him in handcuffs, Wright frees himself and sits back down in the driver's seat of the car.

Another officer can then be heard saying, "I'll tas you!" before then shouting, "Taser! Taser! Taser!" A shot is then fired, but from a real gun, not a taser.

"Holy sh*t!" the officer screams. "I shot him."

Wright then managed to close the vehicle's door and briefly drive away before crashing his car several blocks later. He died at the scene.

Shortly after his death, crowds gathered in protest outside the Brooklyn Center police department where police shot rubber bullets and tear gas.

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Tensions are extremely high in the state of Minnesota due to Chauvin’s ongoing trial. Minnesota was also the location where Philando Castile was shot by police during a traffic stop. This has raised questions about Minnesota police training and its ability to accurately protect citizens.

At just 20 years old, Wright joins the alarmingly long list of Black men killed by police officers but he is more than just a name on a list.

Wright was a son, father, brother, and human being whose life should not be reduced to one traffic stop or arrest.

Here are key facts about Daunte Wright, his family, and his tragic death.

1. Wright was a loving father to his toddler son.

Wright was the father of a young son named Daunte Wright Jr. who will be two in July.

His own father expressed his sorrow at losing his son, who he says, “had his whole life ahead of him.”

As his family grieved the loss of Wright, their heartbreaking statement revealed more about the life behind the hashtags.

"We just want people to know Daunte was a good kid," Wright's family said, "He loved being a father to Daunte Jr."

"Daunte had a smile to make anyone's heart melt. He was definitely a jokester, he loved to joke with people, especially his brothers and sisters," the family added. "He did not deserve this.”

2. Wright called his mother minutes before he was shot.

Wright called his mother after getting stopped by police and told her he had been pulled over because he had air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.

The outstanding warrant they later found is reported to have been for a failure to appear in court on April 2 to answer "for a gross misdemeanor charge from last summer, which alleged Wright had been carrying a pistol without a permit and fled from a peace officer."

His mother listened as the police altercation unfolded and later called back to discover her son had been fatally shot.

"I heard scuffling and I heard the police officers say, 'Daunte, don't run.' And then the other officer said, 'Put the phone down,' and hung it up," Katie Wright told reporters on Sunday. "And a minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered — that was the passenger — and said that he'd been shot, and she put [the phone] on the driver's side and my son was laying there lifeless."

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3. The police have said the shooting was the result of an "accidental discharge."

Speaking with reporters at a press conference, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon explained why he believes Wright was shot.

“As you can hear, the officer while struggling with Mr. Wright shouts ‘Taser, Taser’ several times. That’s part of the officer’s training, prior to drawing a Taser, which is a less-lethal device, that is done to make her partners aware that a Taser—during this—the officer drew their handgun instead of their taser,” Gannon said.

“As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s commands it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”

The officer responsible has been placed on administrative leave.

4. Wright’s family has called for an end to the violence.

Speaking during the protests, Wright’s sister Destinee described the pain of losing her brother under these circumstances.

“He was so goofy. He just makes everybody happy. They took my brother away from me... I’m so hurt, they really just took him... I still can’t believe it. I’m still feeling like I’m going to go home and see him. It really hurts,” she said through tears.

On Sunday, Wright’s family spoke to protesters on the frontlines of the Minneapolis riots.

Wright’s mother warned those engaging in vandalism that creating violence risks creating more backlash for the Black community and their allies.

“We want justice for Daunte, we don’t want it to be about all of this violence,” she said, “We just want justice for our son and this is taking away from that. This is exactly what they want you guys to do so my son isn’t being heard.”

She added that media coverage was becoming increasingly focused on violent protests rather than addressing why Wright was killed for no reason.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.