Daunte Wright's Mom Says He Was 'Scared' on Phone in Traffic Stop Moments Before Police Killed Him
Daunte Wright's parents are speaking out after the 20-year-old was fatally shot by a police officer during a Minnesota traffic stop Sunday.
According to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, Daunte — who was unarmed — was attempting to flee a traffic stop that escalated, ultimately becoming the victim of an "accidental" shooting by a police officer who appeared to be reaching for their taser and not their gun.
The shooting happened just before 2 p.m. local time and prompted overnight protests and clashes with police in the suburb of Minneapolis.
Daunte's mother, Katie Wright, spoke to her son on the phone minutes before his death when he called her about being pulled over. Appearing on Good Morning America Tuesday alongside Daunte's father Aubrey Wright, Katie said she could tell Daunte was "scared" about being pulled over.
"I know my son was scared. He's afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice. But I don't know why, and it should have never escalated the way it did," she told Robin Roberts in tears.
Officer-worn body camera footage of the traffic stop showed that after Daunte was pulled over and approached by two officers for what the chief says were expired car tags, Daunte, standing by the open driver's side door, wrestled free of handcuffs as they were being put on. Daunte then jumped back into his car and appeared to attempt to drive off.
As Daunte did so, "the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," said Gannon. The vehicle then traveled several blocks before crashing into another car. Daunte died at the scene, police said.
The officer was identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
Aubrey said on GMA that he "can't accept" that a mistake resulted in the death of his child. "I lost my son; he's never coming back. I can't accept that. A mistake, that doesn't even sound right. This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can't accept that," he said.
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During the interview, Katie recounted what she heard during her final phone call with her son. She said that Daunte told her he was pulled over for having air fresheners hanging on his rearview mirror. Katie said she asked her son to pass the phone to the officers so she could provide insurance information. Soon, she heard officers ask Daunte to exit his car.
"Daunte said, 'For what, am I in trouble?' I heard the phone getting put down pretty hard. … And then I heard scuffling and the girl that was with him screaming, and I heard an officer ask for them to hang up the phone and then I didn't hear anything else," the grieving mother claimed. "I tried to call back three, four times and the girl that was with him answered the phone and she said that they shot him and he was lying in the driver's seat unresponsive."
"Then I heard an officer ask her to hang up the phone again and then after that, that's the last time I've seen my son. I haven't seen him since," added Katie.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott has called for the involved officer, Potter, to be fired. "Let me be very clear," Elliott said at the news conference, "my position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession, and so I do fully support relieving the officer of her duties."
Katie said on GMA that she wants to see "justice served" and for Potter "to be held accountable for everything that she's taken from us."
"He had a 2-year-old son that's not going to be able to play basketball with him," she also added. "He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much. He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby."
Police Chief Gannon said that although Daunte had been pulled over only for expired tags, he gave his ID to an officer who then ran a check on it and discovered an outstanding warrant for Daunte, for what the chief described as a "gross misdemeanor." That's what led to Daunte's attempted arrest, he said.
Gannon added that the officer had been placed on administrative leave while an investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension begins. He further said "it's far too early" to speculate on charges against the officer. In deciding to release the body cam footage ahead of the investigation, he added, "I felt the community needed to know what happened, they needed to see it, and I needed to be forthright."
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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