Will Shooting Of Daunte Wright Affect the Derek Chauvin Trial?

The Daunte Wright shooting leaves many unanswered and open questions.

By John Ward | jward82@radford.edu

Police have shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old from Brooklyn Center, Minn.

This is yet another case of a seemingly unjustified shooting by a police officer, and this one took place just outside the city where the trial of Derek Chauvin is taking place.

As Minnesota reels from another life taken too soon, many may wonder how this could happen.

How could the officer be so negligent, especially when living in a town only several minutes away from the very courthouse Chauvin is in? It also begs the question of whether the trial of Chauvin will have any impact on police relations at all.

In Minnesota, it is illegal to drive with air fresheners hanging from your rearview mirror. It was this very law that led to Wright’s death.

He was pulled over for air fresheners, and after the police realized he had an outstanding warrant, he became viewed as a threat, to the point where turning his back on the officers gave them enough reason to fire.

It is worth noting that the officer that killed Wright seemed to intend to reach for her taser. In the bodycam footage of the shooting, the officer can be heard yelling “taser” before reaching for her weapon. 

She also exclaims, “holy s— I just shot him” afterward. 

This has immediately been brought forward by some as a defense for the officer. Consider for a moment, though, the months of academy training, where officers are specifically trained to ensure they do not draw the wrong weapon in these situations. 

Not only this, but the average taser weighs about eight ounces, while a standard Glock .22 weighs about 34 ounces. Tasers also look strikingly different from Glocks, usually being bright yellow, again to avoid confusion with handguns. 

At this point, we have to ask: can we really defend this as an accident when there are this many precautions and procedures in place to protect against this? 

If one can accept this shooting as an accident and that it was not intentional, then the question still remains, what could have been done to save Wright’s life?

There are many factors that all contributed to Wright’s death. The law about air fresheners serves next to no purpose aside from giving officers cause to stop strangers for traffic violations. 

If that law was not in place, Wright would be alive. If American police did not have access to firearms, there would have been no chance the officer could make a mistake, and Wright would still be alive. 

While it is incredibly unlikely that police will ever work without weapons in a country as heavily armed as America, this is not a radical idea.