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Protests in Minneapolis after fatal shooting of black man by officer who 'drew handgun instead of taser'

The city is already experiencing tensions as the George Floyd murder trial continues.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

FURTHER PROTESTS WERE held in the US city of Minneapolis last night after police fatally shot a young black man when the officer appeared to confuse her handgun with her taser.

The protests came despite a curfew implemented in the city, which is experiencing tensions already because of the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd last year.

Dozens of protesters gathered to wave signs and chant slogans in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, where Sunday’s killing occurred, carrying placards that read “Jail all racist killer cops”, “Am I next?” and “No justice, no peace”.

Police later fired tear gas at the protesters several times and ordered them to disperse.

It was the second consecutive night of protests after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot dead by police while driving with his girlfriend.

In police body camera video released earlier Monday, an officer could be seen shouting for her taser but then instead firing a gun at the victim.

“The officer drew their handgun instead of their taser,” said Brooklyn Centre police chief Tim Gannon.

Gannon said it was his belief that the officer, now on leave pending an investigation, “had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet”.

“This was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr Wright,” he added. “There is nothing I can say to lessen the pain of Mr Wright’s family.”

Wright’s killing sparked protests overnight in Brooklyn Centre and the looting of a shopping mall, and authorities in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs including Brooklyn Centre announced a curfew from 7.00pm until 6.00am this morning.

ny-shooting-of-a-minneapolis-man-duante-wright-demonstration Demonstrators march in Washington Square Park, Minneapolis Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

‘I’ll tase you’

In the body cam footage, police officers are seen pulling Wright out of his car after stopping him for a traffic violation and discovering he had an outstanding warrant.

When officers attempt to handcuff Wright, he scuffles with them and gets back in the car. A female police officer shouts, “I’ll tase you” and then “Taser! Taser! Taser!” – standard police procedure before an officer fires one of the stun guns.

“Holy shit, I shot him,” the officer says as Wright, fatally wounded, drives off. He crashed his car a few blocks away.

How the officer mistook her gun for a taser was unclear.

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Gannon said police are trained to place handguns “on our dominant side, and our taser on our weak side”.

Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) identified the officer as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force.

President Joe Biden called the killing “tragic” but warned against any potential violent unrest.

“I think we have to wait and see what the investigation shows,” Biden said.

“In the meantime, I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification, none, for looting,” he added. “Peaceful protests [are] understandable.”

The protests overnight prompted the decence lawyer for former officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder and manslaughter charges for George Floyd’s death, to ask the judge presiding over the high-profile case to sequester the jury.

Judge Peter Cahill refused, stating “this is a totally different case”.

© AFP 2021

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