(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden said that the police shooting of Daunte Wright in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota on Sunday was a “really tragic thing that happened” and called for an investigation into the incident.
“The question is: was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full blown investigation,” Biden said.
The incident unfolded Sunday afternoon, when officers initiated a stop for an expired registration tag on a vehicle in Minnesota’s Hennepin County, about 10 miles northwest of Minneapolis. During the traffic stop, the officers determined that the driver of the vehicle had an outstanding gross misdemeanor warrant, according to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon. At a news conference Monday afternoon, Gannon said he believes the female officer intended to deploy a stun gun when she “accidentally” shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
Body camera footage of the incident was released Monday afternoon by the police department, a few hours before Biden spoke to reporters in the Oval Office.
Biden asked protesters to maintain “peace and calm” and cited calls from Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, to maintain peace in the city.
“We’re calling for peace, calm — and we should listen to Daunte’s mom, who is calling for peace and calm,” he said.
He acknowledged the “anger, pain and trauma” in the Black community — which saw a racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd by police in the summer of 2020 and is in the midst of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derick Chauvin, who is charged with murder — but Biden said, “I want to make it clear again, there is absolutely no justification — none — for looting.”
“No justification for violence,” he continued.
The president said he has been in touch with local officials and Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott tweeted a photo of himself on the phone on Monday, after he said he had just gotten off the phone with Biden.
“Let me first say we are incredibly saddened to hear about the loss of life at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota yesterday,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said about the incident Monday afternoon.
“I would say it is a reminder of the pain, the anger, the trauma, the exhaustion that many communities across the country have felt as we have seen these incidents continue to occur within just a few miles of where the tragic events happened just a year ago,” Psaki said.
This comes on the same day that the White House announced that it was abandoning the initiative to create a police oversight commission, which was one of Biden’s policy promises. Psaki emphasized that activist groups supported the move away from the commission.
“The strong consensus from all of these groups is that the work should be focused on trying to pass the George Floyd Act and the commission would not be the most constructive way to deliver on our top priorities, so we are working together collectively to do exactly that,” Psaki said.
Instead, the White House said they would focus on the passage of the George Floyd policing Act in Congress. Psaki emphasized that “addressing racial equity” and putting into place reforms is a priority, but didn’t give specifics about efforts to move the bill ahead.
“It is something he looks forward to continuing to discuss with members of Congress. He believes that there is a path forward, that this piece of legislation offers that path forward and he has certainly will use the power of his presidency to move it forward,” Psaki said.
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