When Daunte Demetrius Wright was pulled over Sunday by police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, an expired registration tag and a forbidden air freshener were the least of his problems.
The 20-year-old Wright had an open warrant for a Dec. 1, 2019, attack in which he allegedly tried to rob a female acquaintance by brandishing a handgun and threatening to shoot her, choking her twice and reaching into her bra to grab $820 as she screamed, according to court documents.
Mr. Wright faced being sent to jail for violating the conditions of his release, including a prohibition against firearms possession, which may explain why he resisted officers, jumping back into the vehicle as they tried to handcuff him, as shown on police body-camera video.
He died at the scene after Officer Kim Potter shot him in what the police chief described as a tragic mistake, saying that she had intended to use her Taser, not her handgun, to subdue him as he apparently sought to escape.
Ms. Potter, who resigned Tuesday, was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter, while attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Wright family, disputed the “accidental discharge” explanation.
“A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a Taser and a firearm,” said Mr. Crump in a Wednesday statement. “Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant.”
SEE ALSO: Kim Potter, Minnesota cop, will be charged in shooting of Black motorist Daunte Wright
According to Hennepin County District Court documents, however, Mr. Wright had been charged with aggravated armed robbery, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $35,000 fine.
His release on $100,000 bail was revoked July 30 over two violations: “Failure to not possess a firearm or ammunition” and “Failure to maintain contact with probation.”
The charging document said that Mr. Wright, then 19, went to a party in Osseo with a friend, Emajay Maurice Driver, after which they slept on the floor at the apartment of a female friend of Mr. Driver’s from high school. She said she had only met Mr. Wright that night.
In the morning, she received $820 in cash from another person for rent. She heard Mr. Wright tell his friend that they should “hit some stains,” which she said meant robbing someone, but she thought he was joking.
As they left the apartment, however, Mr. Wright turned around, blocked the door to stop her from exiting, then “pulled a black handgun with silver trim out from either his right waistband or his right coat pocket and pointed it at VICTIM and demanded the rent money.”
“Give me the f—-ing money, I know you have it,” Mr. Wright said, according to the statement of probable cause dated Dec. 4, 2019.
He then “placed his hand around VICTIM’s neck and choked her while trying to pull the cash out from under her bra,” the statement said. “VICTIM was able to get loose from DEFENDANT WRIGHT and started to kneel down and scream.”
She said she told him to get out because “the cops are close,” but that Mr. Wright “told her that he would shoot her and said ‘Give me the money and we will leave,’” said the document, but then he “tried to choke VICTIM a second time and tried to take her money.”
Shortly thereafter, he and Mr. Driver left the scene, driving off in a white Cadillac, after which she said she found the cash still in her bra. Mr. Driver was also charged.
Court documents also show that Mr. Wright had two misdemeanors on his record: An October 2019 conviction for possession/sale of a “small amount of marijuana” and a February 2020 conviction for criminal disorderly conduct.
Kate and Aubrey Wright, Mr. Wright’s parents, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that their son called to tell them he had been pulled over for having an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror.
Then-Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said Monday that Mr. Wright was pulled over because the vehicle’s tag was expired, after which officers discovered the air-freshener violation and outstanding warrant. The chief resigned Tuesday as protests broke out in the Minneapolis suburb as well as rioting,
“He had a 2-year-old son that’s not going to be able to play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much,” Katie Wright said in the Tuesday interview. “He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby.”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Click to Read More and View Comments
Click to Hide
Please read our comment policy before commenting.