BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Looters ransacked businesses and protesters clashed with police Sunday night, April 11, in Brooklyn Center after an officer shot and killed a man in the Minneapolis suburb during a traffic stop.
The shooting occurred shortly before 2 p.m. in the 6300 block of Orchard Avenue, where officers pulled a vehicle over for a traffic violation and attempted to take the driver into custody, according to a news release issued by Brooklyn Center police.
Relatives near the scene identified the motorist who was killed as 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who is Black.
Demonstrators who gathered outside the city’s police station after dark to protest the shooting were met by officers in riot gear, who began firing tear gas and less-lethal projectiles at the crowd after giving a dispersal order shortly before 10 p.m.
Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said some in the crowd were throwing rocks and other objects at the police station. The demonstrators had largely dispersed by 1 a.m., he added.
Police in Brooklyn Park, which lies directly north of Brooklyn Center, said in a statement that the front door of their headquarters was struck by gunfire about 8 p.m.
No officers from Brooklyn Park were involved in Wright’s shooting, the statement said.
Meanwhile, widespread looting was being reported in Brooklyn Center and adjacent cities, including Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park. Harrington said about 20 business were broken into at Brooklyn Center’s Shingle Creek Crossing shopping center.
To stem the flow of traffic into Brooklyn Center, officials closed several exits off Minnesota 100.
Harrington said during a news conference early Monday morning, April 12, that metro residents can expect to see an increased law enforcement and National Guard presence on the streets in coming days.
The unrest Sunday night unfolded during an already tense time in the Twin Cities, as the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin enters its third week of testimony.
Chauvin is charged with the murder of George Floyd, whose May 2020 death at the hands of police sparked several nights of protests, looting and vandalism in the metro.
State and local law enforcement agencies were already on alert as part of Operation Safety Net to respond to any disturbances related to the Chauvin trial, and Harrington said many of those resources were deployed in response to Sunday’s unrest.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott imposed a citywide curfew at 1 a.m., which was to remain in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.
Harrington said state and local officials have also discussed the possibility of a broader curfew.
Elliott called Sunday afternoon’s shooting tragic and asked protesters to remain peaceful.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he is monitoring the situation, adding that he and first lady Gwen Walz are praying for Wright’s family.
Brooklyn Center Community Schools posted a notice on its website that all district buildings will be closed Monday and students would receive instruction through distance learning.
“This decision is being made out of an abundance of caution following the officer-involved shooting that took place in Brooklyn Center earlier today and not knowing what will unfold overnight in our community,” the statement read.
Traffic stop ends in shooting
Brooklyn Center police say officers learned during the traffic stop Sunday that Wright had an outstanding warrant and tried to take him into custody.
An officer shot Wright after he got back into his vehicle, police said in their news release.
The vehicle then traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle. The pursuing officers and responding medical personnel rendered first aid to the man, but he died at the scene.
A woman who was a passenger in Wright’s vehicle suffered non-life threatening injuries during the crash and was taken to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale. The occupants of the other vehicle were not injured.
Brooklyn Center officers wear body cameras and police say they believe those cameras and dash cameras were activated.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting.
Protesters first gathered about 5 p.m. near the scene of the crash at the intersection of 63rd Avenue North and Lee Avenue North.
The crowd including Katie Wright, who told the press she was the mother of the man who was shot to death.
“All he did was have air fresheners in the car, and they told him to get out of the car,” Wright said. “He got out of the car, and his girlfriend said they shot him. He got back in the car, and he drove away and crashed and now he’s dead on the ground since 1:47. Nobody will tell us anything.”
“I asked them to please take my son off the ground,” she added. “He’s been there since 1:47 this afternoon.”
Protesters jumped on police vehicles and damaged them with what appeared to be bricks or pieces of concrete.
Footage from the scene shows a law enforcement officer shooting a demonstrator — who was holding what appeared to be a chunk of concrete — in the head with a less-lethal round at close range.
Police appeared to retreat from the area about 8 p.m. Wright could still be seen weeping at the scene of the crash.
A short time later, a crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department headquarters and blocked traffic in front of the building.