Brooklyn Center police chief says he believes fatal shooting was accidental

WDIO/KSTP-TV
Updated: April 12, 2021 06:08 PM
Created: April 11, 2021 09:02 PM

The police chief in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center says he believes the fatal shooting of a man during a traffic stop on Sunday was accidental.

Chief Tim Gannon said at a news conference Monday afternoon that he believes the officer who fired the shot that killed Daunte Wright had intended to use a taser but instead pulled a handgun and fired a fatal shot. Gannon released body camera footage on which the officer is heard shouting "taser" before firing the shot and appeared to be in distress after the shot was fired.

"As I watch the video and listen to the officer's commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy a taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. 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 a tragic death of Mr. Wright," Gannon said.

Monday evening, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Wright died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. The finding was referred to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The officer is on administrative leave. Her name has not been released, but Gannon described her as a "senior officer."

Gannon had left Monday's news conference after taking a few questions and returned after a request from the mayor, saying that had left because the BCA has control of the investigation and that he has limited information. Gannon said the decision to release body camera footage was his own.

The shooting happened during a traffic stop just before 2 p.m. Sunday near 63rd Avenue North and Orchard Avenue. Police say the officers determined the driver had an outstanding warrant, and the driver tried to get back in the vehicle while they were trying to make an arrest.

At that point, an officer then shot the driver, and the car kept driving for several blocks before crashing into another vehicle.

The officers and responding paramedics attempted life-saving measures, but the driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

A female passenger in the vehicle was injured in the crash and was taken to North Memorial Health Hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The occupants of the other vehicle were unharmed.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot said the entire community is in grief and said the city will make sure justice is done. He said city leaders met with concerned community members on Monday morning.

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