The policewoman who shot a young African-American on Sunday during a traffic stop mistook her service weapon for her electric pulse pistol, the police chief of Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, said on Monday.
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“The agent intended to use her Taser, but instead she fired a single bullet” at Daunte Wright, explained Chief Tim Gannon during a press briefing the day after the death of the 20-year-old, who sparked clashes on Sunday evening.
The Electric Pulse Pistol is a weapon believed to be less lethal than a firearm.
“It was accidental shooting that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” added the police chief.
Daunte Wright, who was driving with his girlfriend, was arrested because the validity of her license plates had expired, according to Police Chief Mike Elliott. Police then noticed that something was hanging from his rearview mirror, the latter added, which is illegal in that state.
The police then realized that he was also the subject of an arrest warrant and tried to arrest him.
According to video images released Monday by the police, the young man will be handcuffed when he gets back abruptly in his car and tries to free himself from the pressure of an agent. A policewoman, who has a gun in her hand, then fires a bullet at the young man who manages to escape. The car continued to roll for a few hundred meters before colliding with another vehicle.
Police could not find a weapon in the vehicle, said Tim Gannon.
The agent, whose identity has not been released for the moment, is “very experienced”, he said, without being able to explain the reason for this confusion.
“She has the right to be heard and to give her version,” said the police chief, reacting to calls to dismiss the policewoman.
The new death comes as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white police officer accused of the murder of George Floyd last year, is taking place in Minneapolis.
The death of this African-American forty-something, immobilized for long minutes under the knee of this agent, had been at the origin of a historic wave of anti-racist demonstrations in the United States and around the world.
On Sunday evening, some 200 demonstrators protested outside the Brooklyn Center police station and law enforcement used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd.