President Biden said it “remains to be determined” whether the police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a black man, during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday did so on accident.
Biden’s comments on Monday came after Police Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department described the shooting as “an accidental discharge.” Gannon said the officer had intended to discharge a taser and instead fired a single shot at the man.
Gannon said officers pulled the 20-year-old over for a traffic violation and tried to detain him after learning he had an outstanding warrant. The man then reentered his car and an officer shot him.
The car rolled for several blocks until it hit another vehicle. Wright was pronounced dead at the scene. The officer, who has been identified only as a “very senior officer,” can be heard on body camera footage yelling “taser” before firing the single shot that killed Wright. She can then be heard saying “Oh s***, I just shot him.”
The president said the death was tragic “but we have to wait and see what the investigation shows.”
“The question is was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined,” he said. “I’m calling for peace and calm and we should listen to Daunte’s mom, who is calling for peace and calm.”
On Sunday night, Wright’s mother, Katie Wright called on protestors to remain peaceful.
“All the violence, if it keeps going, it’s only going to be about the violence. We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason,” she said. “We need to make sure it’s about him and not about smashing police cars, because that’s not going to bring my son back.”
Protests broke out in the city late Sunday into Monday, with demonstrators clashing with police outside the Brooklyn Center police headquarters. Some rioters threw rocks and other objects at officers.
National Guard members arrived in the city shortly before midnight to help local officers. The protests had largely petered out by 1:15 a.m. Monday, according to the AP.
“The fact is that, you know, we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in the black community in that environment is real,” Biden said. “It’s serious and it’s consequential. But it will not justify violence and/or looting.”
The fatal shooting comes amid the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer accused of killing George Floyd during his arrest last May. Chauvin is seen in a video of the arrest kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until he became unconscious.
Floyd’s death set off months of protests and riots in cities nationwide.