Daunte Wright's parents are speaking out days after their 20-year-old son was shot and killed by a police officer on Sunday, April 11, in Minnesota.
Moments before the fatal shooting, Daunte — who was unarmed — was attempting to flee a traffic stop. The minor encounter with the police quickly escalated to him being a victim of an "accidental" shooting after officer Kim Potter apparently meant to reach for her taser but ended up with her gun in her hand, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon explained.
Potter is a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
Daunte's mother, Katie Wright, spoke to her son in his final moments when he called her about being pulled over. While appearing on Good Morning America on Tuesday, April 13, Katie said she knew her son was afraid as he was being pulled over.
"I know my son was scared. He's afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice. But I don't know why, and it should have never escalated the way it did," she tearfully said while sitting alongside Daunte's father, Aubrey Wright.
Aubrey added that an accident resulting in the death of his son is inexcusable. "I lost my son; he's never coming back. I can't accept that. A mistake, that doesn't even sound right," he stated. "This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can't accept that."
Katie also recalled what she heard during her final phone call with Daunte, who had a two-year-old son of his own. On the call, Daunte told his mom he was being pulled over for having air fresheners hanging on his rearview mirror.
The grieving mother advised Daunte to give the phone to the police so she could provide them insurance information. Soon after, she heard Daunte being told to exit his vehicle. The phone was abruptly put down, as she heard the girl Daunte was with screaming before the call ended.
"Daunte said, 'For what, am I in trouble?' I heard the phone getting put down pretty hard. ... And then I heard scuffling and the girl that was with him screaming, and I heard an officer ask for them to hang up the phone and then I didn't hear anything else," Katie said. "I tried to call back three, four times and the girl that was with him answered the phone and she said that they shot him and he was lying in the driver's seat unresponsive."
She then heard an officer ask the girl to hang up, adding: "After that, that's the last time I've seen my son. I haven't seen him since."
During the interview, Katie insisted that "justice" be served and called for Potter "to be held accountable for everything that she's taken from us."
"He had a 2-year-old son that's not going to be able to play basketball with him," she continued. "He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much. He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby."
The officer-worn body camera footage showed two officers pulling over Daunte just before 2 p.m. local time. Chief officer Gannon said they pulled the young boy over for expired car tags, adding that they discovered there was an outstanding warrant against him when they ran a check on his ID.
While Daunte was being placed in handcuffs, he tried to wrestle free and jump back into the car — as he was standing right by the open driver's side door. He successfully got back in his car and appeared to attempt to drive off.
As he did so, "the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," Gannon said. The car then traveled multiple blocks before the vehicle crashed into another car. Daunte died at the scene, police confirmed.
Both Potter and Gannon — who decided to release the video footage because he "felt the community needed to know what happened, they needed to see it," he explained — resigned from their positions on Tuesday, April 13.
"I am tendering my resignation from the Brooklyn Center Police Department effective immediately. I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately," Potter's resignation letter read.