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Daunte Wright shooting: Dozens arrested in fresh unrest in Minnesota

media captionPolice release footage of arrest and shooting of Daunte Wright.

About 40 people were arrested just north of Minneapolis in a second night of unrest over the police shooting of a black man.

Protesters in the city of Brooklyn Center defied a curfew and threw objects at police, who responded with flash grenades and tear gas.

Police said Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and died after an officer mistook her gun for a Taser during a traffic stop.

The shooting came as the high-profile George Floyd murder trial continues.

This report contains strong language

Derek Chauvin’s defence team on Monday asked for jury members to be sequestered – separated from other people – as they might be swayed by the latest events. The judge denied the request.

The officer who shot Mr Wright was named on Monday as Kim Potter, 48, who has worked for Brooklyn Center Police for 26 years.

Mr Wright was pulled over on Sunday for a traffic violation, but there was a struggle when he tried to get back into his car.

After drawing her gun, apparently by mistake, the officer said: “Holy shit, I just shot him.”

What happened overnight?

The curfew went into force at 19:00 (midnight GMT) across four counties with a huge law enforcement deployment.

In a press briefing after midnight local time, Minnesota State Patrol colonel Matt Langer said officers had reached out to organisers to try to keep protests peaceful but “unfortunately… the organisers weren’t able to influence the desires of the crowd”.

Col Langer said officers had been “shelled pretty significantly with objects” including fireworks.

media captionDaunte Wright’s mother ‘He was my life’.

He said protesters had pushed against the fence of the Brooklyn Center police headquarters and a decision had been made to push back the crowd.

There were “sporadic” incidents of looting in the area and in other parts of Minneapolis and neighbouring St Paul.

In response to the unrest, US President Joe Biden said peaceful protest was “understandable” but added: “I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification, none, for looting.”

Shortly before midnight, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot said he had spoken to Daunte Wright’s father and would “do everything to ensure justice is served”.

Just got off the phone with Daunte’s father to offer my condolences. I cannot begin to imagine the pain his family is going through right now, but we grieve with you for your loss. I also assured him that I will do everything to ensure justice is served. pic.twitter.com/7D8JazK0dZ

— Mayor Mike Elliott (@mayor_elliott) April 12, 2021

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

‘You took his life, for what?’

BBC’s Barbara Plett Usher reports from the scene

One sign at the protest captured the mood: “During the trial!!?” it read in bright orange letters.

“It’s ridiculous,” said the young man carrying it. “They know they have a delicate relationship with the black community right now and they should look to be making amends, not this.”

City officials had said the shooting could not have happened at a worse time, with tensions high over the George Floyd case.

Some protesters threw bottles and shot fireworks toward police lines. They vented their rage as officers in riot gear stood impassively. “You took his life, for what?” screamed a young woman.

“He was a son, he was a father, he was a black man that deserved to live.”

“Do you know the difference between a gun and a Taser?” shouted someone else. “Hell yeah,” roared the crowd, scorning the police chief’s belief that the shooting was a tragic mistake.

“There’s no room for accidents,” said one man. “The fact is that we lost another young black male to a police officer.’

What happened to Daunte Wright?

Police Chief Tim Gannon he believed the shooting of Mr Wright to be “an accidental discharge”.

He was stopped by police for having expired car registration plates and they then discovered an outstanding warrant out on him, so tried to arrest him, said the police chief.

During a news conference on Monday, he played a video from the body camera worn by the policewoman which shows Mr Wright trying to get back into his car as officers attempt to handcuff him on the side of the road.

An officer can then be heard saying “Taser, Taser, Taser” – normal police procedure before firing one of the stun guns. Mr Wright is seen to get into his car and drive away, while the same officer admits, using an expletive, to having shot him.

image copyrightKatie Wright

image captionDaunte Wright’s mother, Katie, said her son called her as he was being pulled over by police

Fatally wounded, Mr Wright crashed a few streets away.

“It is my belief the officer meant to deploy their Taser but shot him with a single bullet,” Chief Gannon said, adding: “There’s nothing I can say to lessen the pain.”

Daunte Wright’s aunt, Naisha Wright, told CNN she did not believe the police account, saying officers knew the difference between a gun and a Taser.

She said: “I’ve owned an over 20,000 volt Taser. They don’t feel nothing like a gun.”

The officer has been placed on administrative leave – temporary leave with benefits and salary still paid.

Mayor Elliot has said she should be fired. He will make a decision on Tuesday about whether Chief Gannon will keep his job, the StarTribune reported.

How do police avoid mistaking a gun for a Taser?

Analysis by BBC Reality Check

Axon, the Taser manufacturer, says its weapons are designed to be distinguishable from handguns.

A company statement reported by the local media said it had “implemented numerous features and training recommendations to reduce the possibility of these incidents occurring…This includes building Taser energy weapons to look and feel different than a firearm.”

Different Taser features include:

  • Often produced in bright colours
  • Weigh significantly less than police guns
  • Typically have different grips
  • Don’t have a safety mechanism like guns

Almost all American police departments now issue their officers with Tasers, according to an estimate by Reuters news agency.

Police officers are typically trained to keep guns in a holster on their dominant side to avoid confusing it with their Taser, kept on the belt on the other side of the body.

“So if you’re right handed you carry your firearm on your right side and [you] carry your Taser on your left,” Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters.

Mistaking a gun for a Taser is relatively rare, but has happened before.

Comprehensive nationwide figures aren’t available. However, a law journal published in 2012 found nine examples of police officers accidentally using a handgun instead of a Taser between 2001 and 2009.

There have also been more recent instances of a suspect being shot instead of Tasered, such as in 2019 when a shoplifter was accidentally shot and seriously injured in St Louis, Missouri.

Why Minneapolis is tense

The trial of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd has been under way in the city for two weeks now.

Mr Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest operation in Minneapolis last May. The footage of the incident sparked global protests against racism.

On Monday, Mr Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson called for jury members to be asked about the Daunte Wright shooting to determine if what they had heard could affect their verdict.

He repeated a call for the jury to be kept separate from the public, but Judge Peter Cahill said full sequestering would only start when closing arguments began.

Law enforcement officials have been bracing for possible unrest once the jury reaches a verdict.

George Floyd’s death sparked waves of protests around the city, many peaceful but some violent with hundreds of buildings damaged.

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