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Biden Calls Daunte Wright's Death 'Tragic' But Cautions Against Violence And Looting

People gather to protest the police Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minn., after an officer shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
Stephen Maturen
Getty Images
People gather to protest the police Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minn., after an officer shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.

President Biden on Monday called Daunte Wright's death "tragic" but cautioned it would not be tolerated as an excuse for violence despite the trauma the Black community often experiences at the hands of police.

"We've spoken to the governor and the mayor [of Brooklyn Center, Minn.]. We've spoken to the authorities there. And I haven't called Daunte Wright's family, but prayers are with their family. It's really a tragic thing that happened, but I think we've got to wait and see what the investigation shows," Biden said.

"The question is was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full-blown investigation. But in the meantime, I want to make it clear again there is absolutely no justification — none — for looting. No justification for violence."

Police pulled Wright over on Sunday afternoon. Police say officers attempted to arrest the 20-year-old after discovering he had an outstanding warrant. Video from a police body camera appears to show Wright trying to duck back in the car before an officer shot him.

The encounter happened just miles away from where another Black man, 46-year-old George Floyd, died after an officer restrained Floyd by holding his knee on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, is currently on trial facing murder charges.

Both events sparked unrest in Minnesota, including some instances of violence and rioting.

"The fact is that we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in the Black community in that environment is real. It's serious, and it's consequential. But it will not justify violence and/or looting," Biden said Monday.

At a press conference Monday, Brooklyn Center police Chief Tim Gannon said it was his belief that the officer, who has not been named, mistakenly grabbed a gun instead of a Taser, resulting in an "accidental discharge."

"It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," Gannon said. "This appears to me, from what I've viewed and the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright."

When asked Monday about Wright's death, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was prioritizing passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which proponents say will increase officer accountability and better track instances of police violence.

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Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.