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Daunte Wright Laid to Rest. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 22, 2021 - 14:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota. Thank you very much for joining us today.

You are about to be looking live at pictures from Minneapolis. The family of Daunte Wright is saying their final goodbyes to their 20- year-old son.

This funeral is happening as the U.S. grapples with police shootings and questions about use of deadly force. Daunte Wright was shot in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, after being pulled over, according to police, for expired plates.

This happened less than 10 miles from where the trial of Derek Chauvin was taking place. Police say, in an attempt to make an arrest, a veteran officer pulled out her gun, instead of her Taser, and fired it, killing Wright.

BLACKWELL: At least two other African-Americans died in police shootings this week, one in North Carolina, another, a teenage girl in Ohio.

At the funeral today, members of Daunte Wright's family, Reverend Al Sharpton, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will speak.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is there outside of that church. We know that's just a short list of elected officials who are there. Tell us about what is happening today and how they will remember this young man.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Friends and family are remembering Daunte Wright as someone who had a big smile, a smile that was brighter than the sun that shines here today.

Inside right now, there's a visual artist painting a picture of Daunte. It's a black-and-white photo. And he just completed that painting, but, while he was painting, there was a trumpet player playing a sweet rendition of hymns, including "Amazing Grace" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

And I think the song selection is unique. If you think about it, "Amazing Grace" was the song the late civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. asked Mahalia Jackson to sing to him when he was troubled, when he knew he had a big push to do on the other side of whatever was going on.

Earlier, before that happened, we heard from a local pastor, Carmen Means, and she not only comforted the family with her prayer, but she encouraged people in the audience. She told them, this is not a movement for right now. This is a movement for our children and our children's children. She also said the God they serve delivered justice this week.

And, of course, she was talking about the verdict that led to celebration in the streets of Minneapolis, the verdict, all guilty, for Derek Chauvin, who ended the life of George Floyd.

Speaking of George Floyd, members of the Floyd family are also inside. The Wright family is now part of this club no one wants to join.

Earlier, we heard from Daunte Wright's sister. She's been the rock of this family, and she said: "You guys see our pain, but you don't feel the pain."

Someone else who understands that pain is the funeral director, Tracy Wesley. This is not the first funeral he's had to help families arrange when they were killed at the hands of police.

Reverend Al Sharpton, as you mentioned, will eulogize the family. And the little boy that Daunte Wright leaves behind is inside with the family wearing a white suit -- Alisyn and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Two-year-old Daunte Wright Jr. We will hear from Daunte Wright's parents in just a moment.

Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much.

We will bring you more from the funeral shortly.

But now let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey. He ran police forces in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Also here, CNN political commentator Errol Louis, host of the "You Decide" podcast.

Errol, Adrienne mentioned that inside the sanctuary members of George Floyd's family. And I remember during Floyd's funeral, President Biden, he said: "When there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice."

Well, there is now another funeral for a young black man, unarmed, killed at the hands of police. For a lot of people, it doesn't feel like we're on that road, Errol.


Look, the pain and the grief for this family and this community is unimaginable for those of us who are not there, but it does have an echo of a painful reminder that these kind of cases, we have just seen over and over and over again, I mean, to the extent that you look around the country and you see that something that almost looks like a carbon copy of this case has happened all over the place, you know, in Tennessee, and in New York, and in California, in the South and in the North and in the Midwest.


It makes clear that this was an inflection point, that what happened to George Floyd and the conclusion of the trial this week is simply a chapter in a long-running story. We, of course, have the power to rewrite that story, but it's a very painful one. And it's going to have more chapters like the one we are witnessing today.

We have got to get control of this. There are reforms that need to happen on the outside -- from the outside to make police departments accountable. There are reforms that have to happen on the inside. And then there's the transformation of society that needs to happen, so that these innocuous encounters don't spiral out of control and lead to the kind of pain that we're going to witness today, Victor.

CAMEROTA: Chief, Daunte Wright was pulled over, according to police, for expired plates.

And, really, a few minutes later, he was dead. And there are -- there's already talk of, how -- is there a way to do something different than that? I mean, the mayor of Berkeley, California, today -- and I understand that's different than Minneapolis, but they're talking about doing away with these sort of minor traffic stops with armed police handling them, no longer pulling somebody over for having an air freshener hanging from their rearview mirror or, again, expired plates, any -- a broken taillight.

I mean, how many times have we seen that? Sometimes, they're called pretext stops, where, if you have a broken taillight, you must be up to something, and then police go investigating.

But what do you think about rethinking the way we do those kinds of traffic stops?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, if elected officials want to do that, then they certainly have the authority to do it. If they don't want police making traffic stops for lesser offenses, and they would have to define what those are, then they should pass the legislation or put something in place to make sure that that no longer happens.

I personally don't have a particular problem with that.

Let me -- as far as the Wright case goes, there were so many errors there and so many tactical things that were done wrong. That shooting, by the way, is -- it's not justified, and it's, to me, inexcusable that it even took place.

But there were things that were just sloppy police work. I mean, they ran his name. They got a warrant. They know who he is. They know where he lives. There was no urgency to try to take him into custody. Once they did get him out of car, there was a reason why police walk suspects to the back of the car. It's to keep them from jumping back in the car in order to try to

drive off. So, you have them turn off the engine, get out, walk to the back and so forth. They didn't do that. He's right next to the driver's door, which is open. And then, of course, you have the one officer come in, and she claims she thought she was drawing her Taser, as opposed to a firearm.

And, of course, the Taser's on the opposite side of the body. And so that's just not a justifiable shooting. Whether or not, in the future, police ought to be making traffic stops for -- quote, unquote -- "minor violations," that's something that elected officials could certainly pass legislation or put something in place that would eliminate that.

BLACKWELL: We take a look into the sanctuary there. We just saw members of George Floyd's family walk in. And on the -- at the pulpit there, you see and hear Ben Crump, who represents both of those families.

Chief, back to you.

You co-chaired President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. And as we broaden the conversation into policing and what needs to change, one of the recommendations was that the police departments look more like the communities they serve.

You know, I had a guest on yesterday who said that one of the central questions that police forces must face is a fear of black men and boys, black women and girls as well.

What the mayor of Brooklyn Center told us the day after the shooting was, he's not aware that a single member of the 49-member police force lives in Brooklyn Center. I mean, how is that sustainable?

RAMSEY: Well, there are a lot of jurisdictions that don't have a residency requirement, and some of it is based on contracts with the union, which, by the way, the city agrees to.

And so I came up in the Chicago Police Department, where there was and continues to be residency. And I personally think residency is good. But I also think that what's more important than where you live is how you treat and interact with people.

Just because you live in a community doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to treat those community members respectfully, nor does it mean, if you don't, that you will somehow not treat people with the kind of respect that they're entitled to.


So, it's the quality of the policing that really is the issue. And, again, I came up in Chicago. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. My first assignment was the West Side of Chicago. I had to go out and buy a street map to find my way around. So, some of these cities are pretty large. And you can grow up in one part of the city and really not be that familiar with another, because they're quite different. And so you have to consider all these things. But diversity is key. I

think diversity is important. And I think we should always strive to have a department that reflects the community that it serves, both racially, ethnically, gender-wise, and what have you.

CAMEROTA: Errol, as we're watching the funeral of Daunte Wright on the other side of the screen, we're seeing, I think, Ben Crump speaking now. We have seen Keith Ellison there, lots of recognizable faces, and including, as we said, George Floyd's family and George Floyd's girlfriend, OK, Courteney Ross, who you will remember spoke so eloquently on the witness stand.

She knew Daunte Wright. This is the -- when I heard that, this is how commonplace in some lives violence and death of loved ones is. She had worked at a school, and Daunte Wright was a student there, and she knew him. And she was always George Floyd's girlfriend.

And so she was invited as a guest. This isn't just sort of some sort of public showing of solidarity. She knew the family and was invited to this funeral also. I mean, it just drives home the loss in some of these communities that have to deal with this all the time.

LOUIS: It drives home how few degrees of separation there are between these communities and these families and makes clear that this is -- this needs to be a national priority.

You know, if you don't personally know the people involved, ask a couple of questions, and you will find out that you know somebody who does know them. That is, in fact, true. You're -- it's not going to be that hard to find.

I mean, Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who was killed in -- on the streets of New York in 2014 in a startlingly similar case, where he was gasping over and over again, "I can't breathe," she's been in touch with this family. They're connected, I believe, through their lawyers and by some of the activists, so much so that you may remember, Alisyn, at one of the recent Democratic Conventions, they had Mothers of the Movement.

There are a whole bunch of women whose sons died under these kinds of circumstances, and it gave birth to sort of a subset of the civil rights movement. That's how widespread it is. That's how serious it is. That's how much we seriously need to get to the heart of this and root out whatever it is, whether it's bad policing, whether it's implicit bias, whether it's overall societal decisions that have to be made about when and where and how we use these armed officers around the country.

That conversation is well under way, and it can't happen soon enough.


We -- again, you see on your screen, on the right of the screen, that's attorney Ben Crump speaking at the funeral of Daunte Wright. We expect to hear soon from Daunte's parents, Aubrey and Katie Wright. We will bring those remarks to you live as they mourn their 20-year-old son, who was killed by a police officer just a few days ago.

Chief Ramsey, Errol Louis, thank you both.

We will take a quick break. We will continue our special live coverage in just a moment.



CAMEROTA: You're looking at live pictures now of the funeral of 20- year-old Daunte Wright.

You will remember, of course, he was pulled over by police and shot by a police officer who claimed she was reaching for and shooting her Taser gun. The family is there. George Floyd's family is there, as well as many, many high-profile public figures, all involved in what happened there and what could have been done differently, because, you know, the past few weeks have seen a number of police-involved shootings, each one, of course, a different circumstance.


CAMEROTA: But they all share that, in the aftermath, they leave Americans wondering what, if anything, could have been done differently, including the case in Columbus, Ohio, where an officer shot and killed a 16-year-old black girl.

After arriving at the scene of an argument, Columbus police bodycam shows Ma'Khia Bryant lunged at another girl with a knife. So, today, that teenager's family is speaking out.

CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll is live for us in Columbus.

So, Jason, you spoke to the young woman's mother. What did she just tell you?


And I just have to tell you, she's heartbroken, she's absolutely devastated. She also found the strength to sit down with us. She wanted to make sure that this narrative going forward was not just about her daughter being involved in this altercation.

She wanted people to know that her daughter had a big personality, a bright smile. And she wanted to let people know about the pain that she is now suffering, now that she has to live without her.


PAULA BRYANT, MOTHER OF MA'KHIA BRYANT: My heart is broken. My heart is really broken right now, because I miss my baby, to be honest. I miss -- already. And it's really hard.

I mean, I haven't eaten. And I can't eat because I miss my baby. I had a beautiful baby. She was taken from me. She was taken from me. I want the world to know that Ma'Khia was beautiful. She was humble. She loved to look after people.



CARROLL: As you can see, she's still -- still in a lot of pain, and she says she's going to continue to just lean on family and friends to try to get through all of this.

The family, Alisyn, made it clear that they did not want to comment on the specifics involving that altercation. As you know, the officer involved in that shooting has been taken off the streets, pending the outcome of the independent investigation.

The A.G.'s office is also conducting a criminal investigation. And this is while there have been a lot of questions about the use of force. Police have made it very clear that, according to their policy, a police officer can use deadly force if that officer is trying to stop an assault from taking place.

Of course, that will be all part of the investigation going forward, but, again, the Bryant family saying that they do not want to talk about this altercation. And, specifically, when asked privately about police accountability, Bryant's mother simply said she's going to leave it in God's hands -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Jason Carroll, thank you. Thank you very much for all that reporting.

BLACKWELL: All right, just in to CNN, the Senate has voted on a bill aimed at addressing the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Now, the bill denounces discrimination against Asian American communities in the U.S. and would create a new Justice Department position to expedite reviews of potential pandemic-related hate crimes.

Let's bring in now CNN chief correspondent -- congressional correspondent Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

So, we now know the result. Tell us more about this bill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, 94-1 was the vote, the only person voting against this was Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri.

This bill, broad -- this bill would is designed to combat the rise in violence against Asian Americans that has occurred amid the coronavirus pandemic. What this bill would do is essentially expedite reviews on the federal level of potential hate crimes, as well as provide new guidance about how to deal with these going forward, bolster reporting channels to ensure that, when these crimes do occur, that they are reported accordingly.

This came as a result of negotiations that happened on both sides. Concerns amid the initial draft of this bill was that any hate crime related to COVID-19 must be reported. It was ultimately changed, so just Asian Americans in general, if they're targeted for hate crimes, this would be essentially moved forward through the appropriate channels in the Department of Justice.

That was enough to get support from both sides of the aisle, but that one senator who I did mention, Josh Hawley, who opposed this, he did tell our colleague Ted Barrett earlier this week about why he opposed this bill. He said that it created a -- in his view, a broad -- he said he's concerned it creates a broad, hugely open-ended mandate.

But that's not how 94 senators felt, a significant bipartisan...


BLACKWELL: Manu, let me interrupt you here.

These are the parents of Daunte Wright, Aubrey and Katie Wright, speaking at his funeral.




K. WRIGHT: I never imagined that I would be standing here. The roles should completely be reversed. My son should be burying me.

My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars. When he walked in the room, he lit up the room. He was a brother, a jokester. He was loved by so many. He's going to be so missed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your time, Katie.

AUBREY WRIGHT, FATHER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: I mean, I don't really speak much, but words can't even explain how I feel right now.

You know, that was my son. I'm going to -- man.


K. WRIGHT: I remember when Daunte first became a father. His son was born at 28 weeks along, so he was premature.


And the joy that Jr. brought to Daunte's life was truly amazing. He was so happy and so proud, and he always said he couldn't wait to make his son proud. And he was just -- Jr. was the joy of his life. And he lived for him every single day. And now he's not going to be able to see him.

A. WRIGHT: God bless you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless you. Thank you so much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, as Reverend Al...

CAMEROTA: You have been listening there to Daunte Wright's parents.

Daunte Wright was only 20 years old, his parents, obviously, emotional and overcome and struggling with how to remember their son in front of everyone. And they talked about how he himself was a father. I don't -- I didn't know that his son was born prematurely at 28 weeks, and how proud it had made him. It was gut-wrenching.

BLACKWELL: Two years old, Daunte Wright Jr., and now these grandparents will have to raise that grandchild.

You think about the families we have watched, now the Wright family, after the Floyd family, after the Castile family, and the list of names goes on and on, Breonna Taylor. And these families are thrust into this position on an international stage, and the pain that they are going through, not just in the spotlight, in the public eye, but having lost someone in this way, the tragedy, as his father said, unspeakable for these families.

CAMEROTA: You make such a good point, that they publicly have to say something and have wisdom at the moment. And, obviously, the Floyd family set that at a very high bar.

And then there's just all the personal stories. I was so struck by just the funeral program that the family put out. And there are all sorts of moments in here from his six siblings that anybody with siblings or kids will recognize. I mean, his sister was saying: "Hey, big brother, I'm sorry this happened to you. I promise to hold the family down and make sure we are all OK."

I mean, this is someone who's younger than 20 years old having to say this. And, of course, she embeds it with jokes. She says: "I wish you were still here taking all my clothes and us fighting about it. I wish you were still here to use all my body wash, because you said, if you smell like a girl, you will attract the girls."


CAMEROTA: I mean, that's how young they are.

BLACKWELL: You look at the pictures of Daunte Wright. These are pictures with his middle school friends, his high school friends. These are sports trophies, because he was only 20 years old.

CAMEROTA: I think these are his siblings now speaking about their life with their brother. And, obviously, it's impossible to figure out what to say when your 20-year-old brother is killed like this.

BLACKWELL: And Damik, Dallas, Marcus, Monica, Diamond, and Destiny, all siblings of Daunte Wright.

We will take a moment. We will be back.