Uh oh. The questions around the shooting last night in the Twin Cities will only multiply after this explanation — and indeed already have. The chief of the Brooklyn Center police department decided on his own to release the body-cam video of the incident that touched off riots at a press conference this afternoon. Chief Tim Gannon told reporters that the officer drew the wrong weapon, intending to tase Wright rather than shoot him:
JUST IN: "This appears to me, from what I've viewed and the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright," police chief says about fatal police shooting. https://t.co/ol6iINQtJp pic.twitter.com/h4YTeoZunF
— ABC News (@ABC) April 12, 2021
A 20-year-old man was fatally shot during a traffic stop after a Minnesota police officer shouted “Taser!” but fired a handgun instead of the non-lethal stun gun, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said. …
“They asked him to step out the car, and you know his first instinct was, ‘What did I do, what’s wrong?’ And they were like ‘Well, put the phone down, get out the car now, we’ll talk to you about it when you get out.’ So he gets out the car, and … there’s a bunch of police already,” [Wright’s brother] Bryant said. “So they ask him to put his hands behind his back, and then he tries to get back in the car to leave and they fired.”
Bryant said Wright’s girlfriend “called my mom on FaceTime and said that they shot Daunte and Mom was like, ‘Let me see him.’ And he was slumped over,” Bryant said, wiping away tears.
“We don’t even really know why. We know what happened and we don’t know why.”
Gannon played the body-cam footage in the presser, even though he acknowledged the BCA would have preferred he would have waited. The video shows clearly that the officer has drawn a pistol while warning she was about to tase Wright, and then fires without recognizing the error (warning: disturbing footage):
Good Lord. The video shows Wright resisting arrest, but not presenting a lethal threat to officers. That makes this shooting a big problem regardless, but the video does at least take intent off the table for now. The officer who shot Wright will almost certainly lose her job, and she’ll be lucky to avoid prosecution. Especially in this environment. Either way, the city of Brooklyn Center will have to find several million dollars to settle the wrongful-death lawsuit coming down the pike.
Not long afterward, Gannon abruptly left the podium, leaving Mayor Mike Elliott holding the bag. Attendees of the presser angrily demanded Gannon return, and a clearly non-plussed Elliott finally got Bannon in front of the press. Gannon apologized, telling reporters that he’s used to essentially standing down in officer-involved shootings in favor of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Gannon argued over tactics used to disperse the crowd, including the dousing of lights to reduce the targeting of officers from rioters throwing objects at them. The presser then descended into more of a town-hall meeting, with attendees objecting to police actions rather than posing actual information-gathering questions.
Elliott finally brought the presser to a close, but practically nothing about this event added to any sense of public confidence in Brooklyn Center’s handling of the case.
Meanwhile, the shooting came up in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd homicide, as expected. The defense wanted the jury sequestered immediately, but Judge Peter Cahill rejected the request, and denied the defense motion for a new voir dire as well:
After a fatal police shooting near Minneapolis on Sunday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s attorney expressed concern that jurors in his murder trial could be swayed by the events. Judge Peter Cahill denied the request to re-question jurors and immediately sequester them.
Cahill said the jury would be fully sequestered beginning next Monday when closing arguments are expected to start. …
One of the jurors lives in Brooklyn Center, and others have ties to the city, Nelson said. He said jurors should have already been sequestered due to the high-profile nature of the case and its tendency to evoke strong emotions. Nelson asked that jurors be warned at the beginning of each day to avoid all media.
That’s almost certainly not going to cut it. Sequestration creates hardships, but this case practically demanded it even before this new shooting. If and when Chauvin gets convicted, we can expect a robust appeal over the lack of a fair trial due to pretrial and trial publicity, especially with the new riot that followed this shooting. By the time this ends, all of it may have been for naught.
Update: Via my friend AJ Kaufman of Alpha News, the Twins have called off today’s ball game:
The weather here is miserable today anyway, so it might have been called anyway. But under the circumstances, one can understand why the Twins would have wanted to call it off.