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Chief: Officer meant to use Taser, not firearm, on Daunte Wright

Garbage at the feet of a police line at the Brooklyn Center police department. (Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Police Chief Tim Gannon said Monday that he suspects the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Sunday might have done so by accident.

“It is my belief that the officer had their intention to deploy the Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” the chief said during a news conference Monday, adding that he believes this was an “accidental discharge.”

“I have asked the BCA to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting and death.”

Mayor Mike Elliott said he would “fully support relieving the officer of her duties.”

Local officials did not release the officer’s name, saying that information would soon be released by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Gannon described her as a “very senior officer.”

The officer shot Wright during a traffic stop about 2 p.m. in the area of 63rd Avenue and Orchard Avenue N. Wright drove a few blocks before he crashed into another vehicle and died. Gannon said he was told in a briefing that “there was an expired tag on the vehicle.”

When an officer approached, Gannon said he saw something hanging in the rearview mirror. Gannon said the officer ran Wright’s name through their system and “found out he has a warrant.”

“I have very little information on the warrant, other than it was a gross misdemeanor warrant.”

Ganon said he based his remarks that it might be an accidental shooting on a roughly minute-long video taken by the body camera, which he released during a news conference Monday afternoon.

“I have watched the video myself, and there is nothing I can say to lessen the pain of Mr. Wright’s family, friends loved ones of that feeling of loss they must have. That pain is shared by the community and all those involved in the incident,” Gannon said.

“As you can hear, the officer, while struggling with Mr. Wright, shouts ‘Taser, Taser,’ several times,” Gannon said. He said that was consistent with their training. “That is done to make her partners aware, as well as the subject,” Gannon said.

Gannon said officers train to place their gun on one side and their Taser on another. “During this encounter, however, the officer drew their handgun, instead of the Taser.”

Gannon said the officer is on administrative duty and will not return to work while the investigation is pending.

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