Tear gas has been fired and a curfew imposed amid angry protests after police fatally shot a black man in a traffic stop in the US city of Brooklyn Center, just north of Minneapolis. The man has been identified by relatives as 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
Brooklyn Center’s mayor issued a city-wide curfew until 06:00 (11:00 GMT), telling people to “be safe, go home”. Tensions in Minneapolis are high as the trial of the former officer accused of killing George Floyd takes place. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he was “closely monitoring the situation” and praying for Mr Wright’s family.
Hundreds of protesters chanting Daunte Wright’s name engaged in a stand-off with riot police late on Sunday outside the police headquarters in Brooklyn Center, just a few kilometres north of central Minneapolis. Two police vehicles were pelted with stones and jumped on, Reuters news agency reported. Police later ordered the protesters to disperse, with footage showing tear gas and stun grenades being fired by officers.
Local media reported some looting taking place in a number of areas and Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott announced on Twitter he was issuing a curfew until 06:00. “We want to make sure everyone is safe. Please be safe and please go home,” he wrote. Some of the Minnesota National Guard, already deployed for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd, were sent to Brooklyn Center. Brooklyn Center has closed all school buildings, programmes and activities for Monday, local media report.
In a statement, the Brooklyn Center Police Department said officers had pulled a man over for a traffic violation on Sunday afternoon and determined that he had an outstanding arrest warrant. They said that when police tried to arrest him, he re-entered the vehicle. An officer then shot the driver, who drove on for several blocks before he crashed into another vehicle, he was pronounced dead at the scene. A female passenger in the vehicle suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Police said body cameras were being worn by the officers involved, and dash cameras had also been activated. Mr Wright’s mother, Katie, said her son had called her during the traffic stop for car insurance details. She said she then heard scuffling and the phone was cut. “A minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered, who was the passenger in the car, and said that he’d been shot… and my son was laying there lifeless.”
She told the Star Tribune her son’s body had been left on the ground by officers, saying: “Nobody will tell us anything. Nobody will talk to us… I said please take my son off the ground.” Mayor Elliott said the shooting was “tragic” and Governor Walz said: “Our state mourns another life of a black man taken by law enforcement.”