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Minnesota on edge following the police killing of Daunte Wright

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.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    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.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    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.

  • Aubrey Wright:

    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.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    Cries for justice are reverberating across the community, reeling after nights of protests.

  • Racci Israel:

    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.

  • Phillip Musa:

    I'm concerned, I'm scared. We don't know what's about to occur. A life has been taken.

  • Protester:

    Say his name!

  • Protesters:

    Daunte Wright!

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    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.

  • Protester:

    You just killed Daunte Wright. If I make a mistake, are you all going to kill me too?

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    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.

  • Steve Schleicher:

    Your Honor, the state of Minnesota rests.

  • Peter Cahill:

    Thank you.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    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.

  • Eric Nelson:

    Were you able to learn that Mr. Floyd had consumed some narcotics that day?

  • Michelle Moseng:

    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.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    Retired Minneapolis police officer Scott Creighton, who arrested Mr. Floyd in the 2019 incident, also took the stand.

  • Eric Nelson:

    Did you see the passenger do anything physically with his hands?

  • Scott Creighton:

    Yes, he turned away from me toward the driver seat as — continually as I was giving him commands to see his hands.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    But, throughout the day, the prosecution took several opportunities to cross-examine.

  • Erin Eldridge:

    You were interacting with Mr. Floyd, correct?

  • Scott Creighton:

    Yes.

  • Erin Eldridge:

    And while you were interacting with Mr. Floyd, he didn't collapse on the ground, correct?

  • Scott Creighton:

    No, he did not.

  • Erin Eldridge:

    And Mr. Floyd didn't drop dead while you were interacting with him, correct?

  • Scott Creighton:

    No.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    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.

  • Eric Nelson:

    Did you notice any changes in the area?

  • Peter Chang:

    Yes, as to — there was a crowd. And, yes, the crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive, a lot of yelling across the street.

  • Eric Nelson:

    Did that cause you any concern?

  • Peter Chang:

    Concerned for the officers' safety, yes.

  • Fred de Sam Lazaro:

    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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