BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (NewsNation Now) — Police clashed with protesters for a second night in a Minneapolis suburb after the city’s police chief said a fatal police shooting of a young Black man appeared to result from an officer mistakenly opening fire with her gun instead of a Taser during a traffic stop.
During a news conference early Tuesday, Colonel Matt Langer with the Minnesota State Patrol said about 40 people were arrested for reasons ranging from curfew violation to rioting. Some people were cited, while some others were booked in jail.
Col. Langer said a few officers suffered minor injuries. He was not aware of any protesters hurt.
Hundreds of protesters faced off against police in Brooklyn Center after nightfall Monday, and hours after a dusk-to-dawn curfew was announced by the governor. When the protesters wouldn’t disperse, police fired gas canisters and flash-bang grenades, sending clouds wafting over the crowd and chasing some protesters away. A long line of police in riot gear, rhythmically pushing their clubs in front of them, began slowly forcing back the remaining crowds.
By 10 p.m., only a few dozen protesters remained.
Law enforcement agencies had stepped up their presence across the Minneapolis area after the Sunday night violence. The number of Minnesota National Guard troops was expected to more than double to over 1,000 by Monday night.
Many of the demonstrators had arrived from an outdoor vigil for family, friends and supporters of the slain motorist, Daunte Wright, 20.
During Monday’s memorial gathering at the spot where Wright was killed, relatives remembered him as a good-natured father who worked multiple jobs to support his 2-year-old son, and they rejected the notion that an accidental shooting was to blame for his death.
“My brother lost his life because they were trigger happy,” his older half sibling, Dallas Wright, told the crowd as rain began to fall.
“My heart is broken in a thousand pieces… I miss him so much, and it’s only been a day,” his mother, Katie Wright, said as she wept. “He was my life, he was my son and I can never get that back. Because of a mistake? Because of an accident?”
Police Chief Tim Gannon told a news briefing earlier in the day that a routine traffic stop of Wright had escalated into a deadly confrontation when officers ran a check on his expired vehicle registration and found an outstanding warrant for him.
Authorities released body cam footage that showed the officer shouting at Wright as police tried to arrest him.
“I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” she can be heard saying. She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.
After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away and the officer is heard saying, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”
Gannon said the investigation was in its early stages, but the shooting seemed to be unintentional.
“This appears to me, from what I viewed and the officers’ reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” he said.
The Hennepin County medical examiner confirmed in its autopsy that Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest and called the manner of death a homicide.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic” and said the officer should be fired.
“We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole,” he said.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, identified the officer as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran who has been placed on administrative leave.
Elliott later announced that the city council had voted to give his office “command authority” over the police department.
This “will streamline things and establish a chain of command and leadership,” he wrote on Twitter. He also said the city manager had been fired, and that the deputy city manager would take over his duties.
The reason behind the firing was not immediately clear, but the city manager controls the police department, according to the city’s charter. Now-former City Manager Curt Boganey, speaking earlier to reporters, said the officer who shot Wright would get “due process” after the shooting.
Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.
Brooklyn Center is a modest suburb just north of Minneapolis that has seen its demographics shift dramatically in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Today, a majority of residents are Black, Asian or Latino.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.