UPDATE: Police now say they pulled Daunte Wright over for expired tabs, while his mother - who was on the phone with him - says her son was told by police it was about a dangling air freshener on the rear-view mirror. Regardless of the rationale, we remain concerned about police using low-level infractions as an excuse for pretextual stops, and we believe that having armed police making traffic stops is a dangerous, racist and unnecessary practice that doesn’t aid public safety.
STATEMENT FROM THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF MINNESOTA ON THE POLICE KILLING OF DAUNTE WRIGHT:
Police killed Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center Sunday afternoon. Yet another Black life was taken by those sworn to protect, and we join the community in mourning Wright’s loss.
Initial details are troubling to the ACLU of Minnesota. Wright’s mother told several news outlets that she was on the phone with her son when he was pulled over for having a dangling air freshener on his car rearview mirror. She said they asked him to get out of the car, but wouldn’t say why. Then she heard scuffling and gunshots.
Brooklyn Center Police said in a press release that they’d pulled Wright over for a traffic stop, learned he had an outstanding warrant, and that he re-entered the vehicle while they were trying to take him into custody. One officer shot Wright, whose vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle. He died at the scene.
The ACLU of Minnesota calls for an immediate, transparent and independent investigation by an outside agency other than the Brooklyn Center Police or the BCA, and for the quick release of any body-cam footage. We call for the naming of all officers and agencies involved. The ACLU-MN has deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target Black people.
While we are waiting to learn more, we must reiterate that police violence and killings of people of color must end, as must the over-policing and racial profiling that are endemic to our white supremacist system of policing.
Police shootings are always tragic, and the situation here is made even more worse by this happening during a trial seeking justice for George Floyd.
The ACLU of Minnesota is watching, and we will keep working to hold police accountable.