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Police Give Update on Fatal Shooting of Black Man during Traffic Stop; Police Release Body Cam Video of Fatal Traffic Stop Shooting. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 12, 2021 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAYOR MIKE ELLIOTT, BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTA: That we are all collectively devastated, and we have been for over a year now by the killing of George Floyd, and that we continue to be distressed as we go through Derek Chauvin trial.

[13:00:015]

So, having a police-involved shooting happen in our community, and killing a young man, is heartbreaking and just unfathomable. So our entire community is filled with grief at yesterday's police-involved shooting that led to the killing of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old young African-American male. And my heart goes out to Daunte's family and to all those who were impacted by this tragedy in our community and the world over.

And while we await additional information from the BCA, which is leading this investigation, we continue to support members of our community as they gather peacefully amid our calls for transparency and accountability. Let me be clear, we will get to the bottom of this. We will do all that is within our power to make sure that justice is done for Daunte Wright.

We're going to continue to meet with community leaders and to hear their voices. In fact, we did that this morning, the chief and city council members and other elected officials from the state and city staff, city manager, we had a meeting earlier with the community to be able to hear their voices in this time. And we're also going to have continue to conduct press conferences and share information with the public.

As I stated, we do plan to show the body camera footage. We're going to conduct a community press conference following this as well so that we can talk directly with leaders of our community and organizations and share this information with them as well.

We're going to also be providing some crisis counseling and mental health resources to all of our community members who may need and desire such services. In our collective -- our collective community is grieving every single life, every member of our community is important to us.

And so the events, you know, like yesterday, are tragic. And, you know, they take each and every one of us, they take a part of us as we experience these traumatic events. Just being exposed to it, I'm sure you're all feeling the aftermath of the weightiness of what we're all feeling collectively.

And so I am going to invite Chief Tim Gannon to come up and he's going to provide you a briefing about the details of what transpired yesterday. And then we'll stand for questions.

CHIEF TIM GANNON, BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTA POLICE: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Tim Gannon, it's G-A-N-N- O-N, I'm the chief in Brooklyn Center. I've been chief for approximately five years and I've been a police officer in the city for 27.

Today, I will be releasing the body-worn footage worn by the officer involved in the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened on Sunday afternoon. I have watched the video myself. And there is nothing I can say to lessen the pain of Mr. Wright's family, friends, loved ones, for that feeling of loss that they must have. That pain is shared by the community and also all those involved in the incident.

What I can do is convey my deepest sympathies to the Wright family and be transparent with the information I'm aware of at this time. That will include showing a video portion from the point of deadly force used by the officer as well as the officer's immediate reaction after the use of deadly force.

I caution everybody as you watch this that this will be graphic and unedited. Could I have that video start, please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If someone could turn the lights off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a moment here. Okay.

[13:05:00]

GANNON: It should be on both screens.

Can you turn the lights back on, please?

As you can hear, the officer, while struggling with Mr. Wright, shouts taser, taser several times. That's part of the officer's training prior to deploying a taser, which is a less lethal device. That is done to make her partners aware, as well as the subject, that a taser deploying will be imminent.

During this encounter, however, the officer drew their handgun instead of their taser. For informational purposes, we train with our handguns on our dominant side and our taser on our weak side. So, if you're right-handed you carry your firearm on your right side and your carry your taser on your left.

This is done purposefully and it's trained. As I watch the video and listen to the officer's commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer's reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in a tragic death of Mr. Wright.

I have asked the BCA to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting and death. Once they are completed, I expect they will submit their findings independent of me to the appropriate authorities, the appropriate attorneys that will look and review this case.

I'm also stressing that I do hope for the community to be patient and allow this investigation, criminal investigation, to be completed, as thoroughly as possible. I believe Mr. Wright deserves this, as do all involved.

The officer is currently on administrative leave. Make a short comment about what happened last night to our community, a community that I've been a part of for 27 years. I've seen some of the worst damage to this city I've ever seen in those years.

Again, peaceful protesting, expressing yourself, we fully support that, but the ravaging of our businesses, the looting of our stores, the destruction to our pharmacies, we cannot tolerate that. I'm hoping that the community will have this level of transparency and know that this is being investigated by the correct authorities, which is the BCA.

Unfortunately, they're not here today but they are handling the investigation, and I have very little information besides what I've just given to you because they are handling that investigation.

Mr. Mayor, do you have any comments that you want to make?

ELLIOTT: All right. So we're going to open it up for questions but I just want to reiterate that, you know, obviously, this is deeply tragic and we're going to do everything that we can to ensure justice is done, to ensure that our communities are made whole.

And with respect to the events last night, obviously, there were folks in the community who were grieving, who showed up initially at the location where Daunte Wright was killed and were gathering. And, obviously, later on, as the night went on and unfolded, there were a series of events that led to an escalation in the protest later on into the evening.

[13:10:11]

Later on, I did issue a curfew, which was in place until 6:00 A.M. this morning to ensure that we're taking steps to keep the community safe. We do want to emphasize that we believe strongly in people's rights to gather and to express their grievance and to protest. That is a fundamental American right and we're going to protect that right. And at the same time, we're going to also work to protect the safety of our community.

And so we'll now open it up for questions.

REPORTER: Is it going to be sent over to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for possible charges?

ELLIOTT: Chief.

GANNON: It's far too early to know which authority is going to be prosecuting, if there is a prosecution. So I don't know how that's going to play out. Unfortunately, the BCA normally is present here during these types of conferences but what I've understood is the releasing of video this early in a situation is not something that they condone. They leave it up to me to do that. And as I decided to do that, they're not part of this conversation, they're not part of this press conference at this time.

REPORTER: Why did you decide to do this today?

GANNON: I felt the community needed to know what happened. They needed to see it. I needed to be transparent. And I want to be forthright, due respect to Daunte as well.

REPORTER: Chief, can you talk about what led to the traffic stop? Daunte Wright's mother told reporters he had his air freshener on his rearview mirror.

GANNON: From what I understood from the public safety briefing, there was an expired registration on the vehicle. That means the tabs were expired. Upon arrival, when the officer made contact, I think, at that time when he walked up to the car, he discovered there was a hanging item from the rearview mirror. So there was a contact that the officer went up there initially for, obtained his I.D., or his name, he walked back to his car and at that time he ran his name and he found out that he had a warrant. That's why they removed him from the car and they were making custodial arrest.

REPORTER: Can you tell us more about the warrants?

GANNON: I have very little information on the warrant other than it was a gross misdemeanor warrant.

REPORTER: Daunte's brother tells us his didn't know he had a warrant for his arrest and recently missed a meeting with his probation officer.

GANNON: That I don't know.

REPORTER: So there's a perception, I think, in the U.S. and around the world that had Daunte Wright been my color, this wouldn't have happened to him. Why is it that police officers in the United States keep killing young black men and young black women far, far, far higher rate than they do white?

GANNON: I don't have an answer to that question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the black man is real here in the state of Minnesota, I can answer that question.

REPORTER: Was there a gun found in the car?

GANNON: There is no gun that I was made aware of. I did not search the car but I have not been made aware of a gun in the vehicle. REPORTER: The officer, is she under any type of --

GANNON: There has been --

REPORTER: -- mental evaluation.

GANNON: There has been a fair amount of social chatter in media which I don't normally comment on but there was some comments in social media she had committed suicide. That is not true. That is not true.

To the best of my knowledge, she's being taken care of right now.

REPORTER: What can you tell us about this officer and how long she's been with the department?

GANNON: At this point in time, I don't have that. I will not release that information. That should be released very shortly though. I believe the BCA has a system in place where they'll be releasing the names of all parties involved and also all their training records and all that information as far as tenure and seniority, that all will be released shortly.

REPORTER: Do you plan to step down as people call for your resignation after the actions outside of this police department last night?

GANNON: At this point, I do not.

REPORTER: Chief, what was happening? What are we seeing in the video prior to the shot, you described the taser and the weapon, what was happening there?

GANNON: I'm not in the mind of the officer. I can only see what you're all seeing. I can couple that with some of the training that -- much of the training that I've received. And that's why I'm believing it to be an accidental discharge.

REPORTER: But prior to that, there was some sort of activity going on. Was -- when they were trying to take him into custody.

GANNON: It appeared to me from the video that the individual was trying to get back into his car to leave.

REPORTER: Chief, how often do officers go through firearm training to try and maybe prevent something like that happening where you don't make that kind of mistake? Is it annual training or how does that work?

GANNON: We have numerous trainings throughout the year. We don't try to lump it on one group. So there's numerous trainings where we do tactical training, we do firearms training, we do taser deployments.

[13:15:03]

We have pretty thorough taser re-qualifications on a yearly basis, but then we also do a number of scenarios and role playing exercises as well.

I can take one more question, please.

REPORTER: We're in the midst of a pandemic, why was a priority to pull someone over for expired tags?

GANNON: I don't know if that was a priority but it was a violation that the officer observed and initiated a traffic stop.

REPORTER: Chief, are you aware there's a significant delay in getting tags and things of this nature from the DMV so even people who have purchased tags are unable to get them because there's a two to three month backlog, are you aware of that? And is your staff also aware of that and have you made any type of recommendations to your staff to be mindful that we're in the middle of a pandemic, and don't pull people over for tags, particularly because there is a significant delay in getting those tags from the Department of Motor Vehicles, are you aware of that?

GANNON: I am aware of that.

REPORTER: Is your staff aware.

GANNON: Yes, they are.

That was the last question, I'm sorry.

REPORTER: Mr. Mayor, if I can ask you, in that video, the female officer clearly made a fatal mistake. She did the wrong thing. We understand she's been receiving some kind of counseling. But should she lose her job since it's abundant and clear that she killed someone?

ELLIOTT: Let me be very clear, my position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession. And so I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties.

REPORTER: Mr. Mayor, you just said yourself, the whole world is watching the twin cities right now. Why weren't police forces looking out for -- you know, just looking out about what they were doing? Why weren't they taking greater precautions when they got involved in incidents like this? Do you have any answer to that?

ELLIOTT: You know, I don't have an answer. I have not spoken with the officers involved, myself. You know, at this point, the BCA is the one that's in contact with those officers, and, in fact, is the only one that's allowed to be in contact with those officers.

REPORTER: Mr. Mayor, clearly, because you answered the question directly, you've given some thought to this idea of releasing this officer. With that said, what is the process? Can she be released immediately? Does she have to go through some type of an appeals process? How does that work?

ELLIOTT: Well, under our form of government the city manager who's here -- you can come up, Curt -- he ultimately actually is -- has control over the police department and not the mayor, and over the chief. So you can comment on that. The city council also, you know, has ultimate authority over what happens in the city collectively. So the city council can take action in this regard as well.

Go ahead, Mr. Boganey.

CURT BOGANEY, CITY MANAGER, BROOKLYN CENTER, MINNESOTA: Thank you, Mayor.

REPORTER: Say and spell your first and last name.

BOGANEY: Yes, my name is Curt Boganey, B-O-G-A-N-E-Y. And in response to the question about termination, all employees working for the city of Brooklyn Center are entitled to due process with respect to discipline. This employee will receive due process and that's really all that I can say today.

REPORTER: Do you support the termination of an officer like this who has made the type of mistake that has cost a resident of yours life? Do you support the termination of this type of officer? And what message are we sending here in Brooklyn Center to the rest of the world about the valuation of black life? Do you support the termination of this type of an officer?

BOGANEY: I understand and appreciate the comment that you made and why you said it, if I were to answer that question, I would be contradicting what I said a moment ago, which is to say that all employees are entitled to due process. And after that due process, discipline will be determined. If I were to say anything else, I would actually be contradicting the idea of due process.

REPORTER: One final question. What's your expectation for how a significantly white police force in Brooklyn Center treats the black and brown members of this community? What expectation have you communicated down to the chief and to the officers under him for how they are to interface with the vast majority, because the vast majority of this population is black and brown? How have you communicated to them to interface and interact with people who look like me?

[13:20:00]

BOGANEY: Absolutely, I've communicated that to the chief, and I do believe that the chief concurs with the notion that every resident of Brooklyn Center must be treated fairly, must be treated equitably. The city council has been very clear in its expectations about fairness and equity. We are implementing this year an office of anti-racism principles and practices. We are hiring an equity officer in the next several weeks.

The city council has provided specific direction about accountability for the police department and transparency for the police department. We have been providing reports to the city.

REPORTER: Can you talk to us about that accountability? BOGANEY: Yes. We're providing reports to the city council about officer discipline, about information on stops, of black and brown people, people of color in the city of Brooklyn Center. We're developing some task forces to assess if any of our policies or if any of our practices lead to disproportionate inequitable results. And our objective for doing that analysis is to eliminate any inequity that occurs as a result of our practices and our policies and that has been communicated to the chief and to the police officers of the city of Brooklyn Center.

REPORTER: Racial profiling that happened in this situation, we are standing in solidarity and calling for the firing of this officer. You have talked about her having due process, although Daunte Wright did not get due process in that situation. She needs to be fired immediately to send a message that this type of behavior will not be condoned within the city of Brooklyn Center.

BOGANEY: Thank you, I appreciate those comments.

REPORTER: Should an officer who can't tell the difference between a taser and a handgun, should they go out in a vehicle with both items in their car?

BOGANEY: It really wouldn't be appropriate for me to respond to that?

REPORTER: Why wouldn't it? Why would it not be appropriate, sir?

BOGANEY: I can't make that judgment.

REPORTER: As a supervisor for the police force, did you (INAUDIBLE) decision last night to use tear gas on our youth who were protesting yesterday, and rubber bullets?

BOGANEY: I was not.

REPORTER: Mr. City Manager and Mr. Mayor, when I asked that question about the firing of the police officer, the police chief left. What is that an indication of? Is he dealing with something perhaps more important or is that some type of silent protest because he left immediately?

BOGANEY: I can't speculate.

REPORTER: Mr. Mayor, do you have a comment?

ELLIOTT: I do not know why the -- excuse me.

REPORTER: Does it bother you without knowing why that he just walked out?

ELLIOTT: I do not know why the chief left. You know, I can only speculate as to why he left, you know, at the time that he did.

REPORTER: What would your speculation be?

ELLIOTT: I don't have any speculation. I mean, it's possible that, you know, the chief, you know, takes the position similar to the city manager that there needs to be some kind of a process or -- you know, I don't know. I mean, I would only --

REPORTER: What was the conversation between you and the chief? What was that conversation between you and the chief, when you shared with the chief that you'd like to see this officer terminated? He didn't tell us anything about the officer, how long she's been with the force, her name, where she trained. These are questions the public deserves to know.

ELLIOTT: Certainly. You know, so those conversations, I'm not -- are privileged conversations so I can't reveal that right now. But we should be able to provide the details around officer and her trainings and those types of details.

REPORTER: What's the process last night --

ELLIOTT: Let me -- if you'll just give me a second. I'm just going to check to see if -- is the chief engaged currently at the moment in addressing some public safety concerns or some other matter, is there any reason why we can't have him answer some more questions around folks that are asking about the officer's training and whatnot?

REPORTER: How long she's been on the force?

ELLIOTT: okay, so we're --

REPORTER: The chief can just walk out in the midst of a crisis.

ELLIOTT: So I --

REPORTER: He needs to be fired too.

ELLIOTT: Just to be clear, we are checking right now with the chief to see if he will come back and stand for more questions. And so --

REPORTER: What is the protocol for when there is protesters in the city of Brooklyn Center and also outside of police -- you know, the police office and what is the normal protocol, what is the process for who decides and how does that decision happen and then were those protocols in that process followed last night?

[13:25:01]

ELLIOTT: All right. So I will have the city manager and the chief speak on that, but I'll speak first. My role becomes active the moment that I declare a state of emergency and if the city council acts to give the mayor authority over the police or under the circumstances that there's a declaration of martial law. And so my role really is one of influence in those situations. I cannot give commands to the department. I cannot instruct the police chief to take certain actions or not to take certain actions. The person who can do that is the city manager.

And so in terms of what the protocols are and, you know, for handling protests, you know, I imagine the chief will be coming back to join us and speak on that shortly. But, Mr. Boganey, if you have any comments on that.

REPORTER: Could you release the name of the officer who was involved in the shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's public data.

BOGANEY: It's my understanding that that name will be released very shortly, but it's my understanding that at this point, the BCA, who's doing the investigation, is not --

REPORTER: The BCA is not a part (INAUDIBLE) to conduct the investigation, you all specifically chose them, which means you have ultimate authority over what happens, and what information is released. So just as the chief released that body camera footage, we're expecting the name of the officer to be released because that is public data. The BCA has no control over that whatsoever.

BOGANEY: Well, let me say this, and I will let the chief address that particular question as well. But I will tell you this. We have every intent to release that information as quickly as possible. And I would -- I'll just leave it at that. There's no reason or desire to withhold that information any longer than absolutely necessary.

REPORTER: So can you instruct the chief to release her name?

BOGANEY: I won't do that at this moment, at this place.

REPORTER: Why?

BOGANEY: It would be inappropriate.

REPORTER: That is not inappropriate. What was inappropriate was killing Daunte Wright under those circumstances. So you are working harder to protect a killer cop than a victim of police murder?

GANNON: Okay. I'm sorry, I'm back, I'm sorry. I left -- I'm used to doing the handoff with the BCA, and I apologize for that. Normally, the BCA steps in and they do a lot of talk about the investigation. That's what I'm used to. So, I apologize for that, but I'm back here now.

I can answer some more questions but please realize, in an officer- involved shooting, what happens is I have no contact with that investigation, because I don't want to taint that investigation. People can say they scoff at that. I looked at this video, which is unprecedented. I don't know of any chiefs that have done that very often, or has looked at that video in advance of that. Sometimes you can't unwatch a video.

So, hold on, let me finish, please. So what I'm saying is I have limited information. I'm not trying to be disingenuous but I'm trying to stay away from the investigation. I wish the BCA was here. But, again, they'd probably tell you the same thing, that there's not much they can do because it's an early investigation.

Now, please, one question at a time. Yes, sir? REPORTER: Chief, I'm going to ask you directly as I asked the mayor, do you believe the officer who fired this fatal shot, and I understand there's due process, we get that, but, ultimately, she shot and killed a 20-year-old man. The mayor has indicated she should be terminated. What's your position on that?

GANNON: My position is that officer afforded due process just like anybody else does. She has the right to be heard. She has the right to give her statement. She has a right to tell what she felt, what she thought, not what I thought, not what I saw, but what she thought and what she -- that may have an impact. She's on -- time-out. She will not be returning to duty until this investigation has run its course and she, for all intents and purposes, I think we can look at the video and ascertain whether or not she'll be returning.

So one question at a time, please. Over here, yes, ma'am?

REPORTER: This is not the first time this has happened in the city of Brooklyn Center. Two years ago, we had another officer-involved shooting where a young man lost his life. You understand that the public do not trust you and your department right now. And what we are asking for you are not given to us. You should have a process how to deal with this situation. But we really do answer the information on the officer involved in the shooting.

GANNON: The first question is we do have a process in place and that's leaning on the BCA to do their investigation. Every shooting that I've seen, every shooting that I've witnessed has been different. Every circumstance is different around every shooting. It's tragic every time. The loss of life is obviously tragic. But there are different circumstances around every situation, in this particular situation, it was very important for me to get that video out as quickly as possible.