Second night of unrest in Minneapolis after police kill Black motorist

Second night of unrest in Minneapolis after police kill Black motorist
Second night of unrest in Minneapolis after police kill Black motorist

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A demonstrator holds a sign that reads ‘Justice for Daunte Wright’ during a protest in Washington, D.C.,April 12, 2021. — Reuters pic

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MINNEAPOLIS, April 13 — Dozens of protesters were arrested overnight in Minneapolis, officials said today, as fresh violence broke out despite a curfew imposed after a police officer fatally shot a young Black man.

The killing fueled tensions in the US city already on edge because of the George Floyd murder trial.

Several officers suffered minor injuries and there was sporadic looting, law enforcement officials said, confirming around 40 arrests.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, the suburb where Sunday’s killing occurred.

Demonstrators taunted police through wire fencing erected around the station, and carried signs saying “Jail all racist killer cops,” “Am I next?” and “No justice, no peace.”

Police fired tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.

It was the second consecutive night of protests after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot dead by a policewoman who appeared to confuse her handgun with her taser.

“A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right,” Wright’s father Aubrey told ABC television, sitting alongside his sobbing wife Katie.

“I can’t accept that. I’ve lost my son. He’s never coming back.”

‘I shot him’

In police body camera video, the officer shouts “Taser! Taser! Taser!” but then instead fires a gun at the victim.

“The officer drew their handgun instead of their taser,” said Brooklyn Centre police chief Tim Gannon.

Gannon said he believed that the officer, now on leave pending an investigation, “had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet.”

“There is nothing I can say to lessen the pain of Mr Wright’s family,” he added.

In the footage, police officers are seen pulling Wright out of his car after stopping him for a traffic violation and discovering he had an outstanding warrant.

When officers attempt to handcuff Wright, he scuffles with them and gets back in the car. A female police officer shouts, “I’ll tase you.”

“Holy shit, I shot him,” the officer says as Wright, fatally wounded, drives off. He crashed his car a few blocks away.

How the officer mistook her gun for a taser was unclear.

President Joe Biden called the killing “tragic.”

“I think we have to wait and see what the investigation shows,” he said.

“In the meantime, I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification, none, for looting,” he added.

The protests prompted the defence attorney for former officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder and manslaughter charges for George Floyd’s death, to ask on Monday for the judge presiding over the high-profile case to sequester the jury.

Judge Peter Cahill refused, stating “this is a totally different case.”

‘Tragic events’ 

Chauvin is facing murder and manslaughter charges for his role in Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, which occurred during his arrest for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill.

The 45-year-old Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a video taken by a bystander kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man said repeatedly that he could not breathe.

The video touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

Brooklyn Centre, where Wright was shot, is a northwest suburb of Minneapolis located nine miles (15 kilometres) from the heavily guarded Hennepin County Government Centre where Chauvin is on trial.

“We are in pain right now, and we recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” Brooklyn Centre Mayor Mike Elliott said.

The Minnesota Twins postponed their Monday baseball game against the Boston Red Sox “out of respect for the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Brooklyn Center.”

The US professional basketball and hockey leagues also postponed Monday games involving Minnesota teams.

Prosecutors—who are expected to rest on Tuesday—are seeking to prove Floyd’s death was due to asphyxiation by the officers conducting the arrest and have called several medical experts to bolster their case.

Chauvin’s attorney claims Floyd’s death was due to his consumption of the illegal drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine as well as underlying health conditions.

Prominent cardiologist Jonathan Rich testified yesterday that Floyd’s death was caused by “low oxygen levels” that were “induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxiation that he was subjected to.”

“I see no evidence at all that a fentanyl overdose caused Mr Floyd’s death,” Rich said.

Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, 39, took the witness stand and emotionally recounted stories from their childhood.

Judge Cahill told jurors he expected Chauvin’s defence to begin its presentation today. —   AFP

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