Fred de Sam Lazaro
Fred de Sam Lazaro
The death of George Floyd and the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin has kept the state of Minnesota in the national spotlight. Now the death of Daunte Wright near Minneapolis has led to new protests and opened long-standing wounds over policing and race. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports.
The death of George Floyd and the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin has kept the state of Minnesota in the national spotlight.
Now the death of Daunte Wright near Minneapolis has led to new protests and reopened longstanding questions over policing and race.
Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has our report.
And a warning:
Viewers may find some images disturbing.
Fred de Sam Lazaro:
With calls for accountability growing louder in the Minneapolis suburb, the police officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright resigned today.
Mayor Mike Elliott:
I'm hoping this will help bring some calm to the community.
The officer was identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center police force.
The city's police chief, Tim Gannon, who also resigned today, had earlier described the killing at a traffic stop on Sunday as — quote — "an accidental discharge" and said the officer had meant to draw her Taser.
The father of Daunte Wright, Aubrey Wright, said in an interview today he rejects that explanation.
I lost my son. He's never coming back. I can't accept that. A mistake? That is not — that doesn't even sound right.
Cries for justice are reverberating across the community, reeling after nights of protests.
I actually prayed for Mr. Wright's mom, because I know what she's going through because I lost my son. So, he was murdered, you know? So I know exactly her pain and what she's going through.
I'm concerned, I'm scared. We don't know what's about to occur. A life has been taken.
Say his name!
Frustration over the city's handling was felt at a vigil for Wright last night, marked by emotional moments.
Hundreds then took to the streets for a new round of protests outside the police station. Lines of officers in riot gear kept watch as anger built through the night, hours past curfew.
You just killed Daunte Wright. If I make a mistake, are you all going to kill me too?
Looters broke into and vandalized a Dollar Tree nearby, while others set off fireworks outside. Police began firing flashbang grenades and tear gas to disperse them. The Minnesota State Patrol said about 40 people were arrested.
As business owners in Brooklyn Center bought up their windows and doors, bracing for perhaps one more night of unrest, almost everyone here has an eye also on goings-on in downtown Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin entered its 12th day of testimony today.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of police continues gripping the nation.
Your Honor, the state of Minnesota rests.
Today, prosecutors for the state of Minnesota wrapped up their case. And Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, kicked off the defense highlighting an incident involving Mr. Floyd and law enforcement on May 6, 2019, about a year before he died.
Nelson called retired paramedic Michelle Moseng, who treated Floyd on that day.
Were you able to learn that Mr. Floyd had consumed some narcotics that day?
Yes. He had told me that he had been taking multiple, like every 20 minutes. And I don't remember if it was Oxy or Percocet, but it was opioid-based.
Retired Minneapolis police officer Scott Creighton, who arrested Mr. Floyd in the 2019 incident, also took the stand.
Did you see the passenger do anything physically with his hands?
Yes, he turned away from me toward the driver seat as — continually as I was giving him commands to see his hands.
But, throughout the day, the prosecution took several opportunities to cross-examine.
You were interacting with Mr. Floyd, correct?
And while you were interacting with Mr. Floyd, he didn't collapse on the ground, correct?
No, he did not.
And Mr. Floyd didn't drop dead while you were interacting with him, correct?
The defense brought Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang to the stand. Chang was the fifth officer to arrive on scene May 25, 2020, the day Mr. Floyd died.
Did you notice any changes in the area?
Yes, as to — there was a crowd. And, yes, the crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive, a lot of yelling across the street.
Did that cause you any concern?
Concerned for the officers' safety, yes.
Hoping to sow doubt about Chauvin's culpability, the defense honed in on their arguments that a hostile crowd distracted officers and that health factors, like a preexisting condition or drug use, led to Floyd's death.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Fred de Sam Lazaro.
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Fred de Sam Lazaro is director of the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, a program that combines international journalism and teaching. He has served with the PBS NewsHour since 1985 and is a regular contributor and substitute anchor for PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
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