Protesters are currently out on the streets in US over the killing of yet another black man by the Police in the Midwestern City of Minneapolis.
Convulsed by two converging cases of racially charged violence, Minneapolis grappled with tragedy as the father of the latest police shooting victim said he “can’t accept” that his son’s killing was a mistake.
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The victim, African-American Daunte Wright, was shot dead during a traffic stop by a police officer whom the force later said appeared to have confused her handgun with her taser.
The victim’s father, Aubrey, angrily rejected the explanation on Tuesday.
“A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right,” he told ABC television, sitting alongside his sobbing wife Katie.
“I can’t accept that. I’ve lost my son. He’s never coming back.”
In an act of solidarity, members of the Floyd and Wright families were to join forces later Tuesday and publicly speak out against police brutality and systemic discrimination that has prompted an American reckoning on racial injustice.
Shortly before the families were to speak, prosecutors rested their case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for murder and manslaughter in the case of Floyd, whose death last year shocked the nation.
The defense immediately launched into its case. Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson contends that Floyd died from underlying health problems mixed with his use of drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine, and not from Chauvin’s actions.
In a video taken by a bystander at the scene, the 45-year-old Chauvin, who is white, was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man — arrested for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill — complained repeatedly that he “can’t breathe.”
– Tear gas –
The recording touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.
The latest police killing of Wright has triggered fresh tumult. Around 40 protesters were arrested overnight in Minneapolis as a second night of violence broke out despite the imposition of a curfew.
Several officers suffered minor injuries and there was sporadic looting, law enforcement officials said.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, the Minneapolis suburb where Wright was killed.
Demonstrators taunted police through wire fencing, and carried signs saying “Jail all racist killer cops” and “No justice, no peace.” Police fired tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.
In police body camera video, the officer shouts “Taser! Taser! Taser!” but instead fires a gun at the victim.
Brooklyn Center police chief Tim 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.
– ‘I shot him’ –
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.
President Joe Biden called the killing “tragic” but urged calm as authorities conduct an investigation.
Former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama issued a potent statement Tuesday, saying they “empathize with the pain” that Black parents and children are feeling after such a loss.
“The fact that this could happen, even as the city of Minneapolis is going through the trial of Derek Chauvin and reliving the heart-wrenching murder of George Floyd, indicates not just how important it is to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but also just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country,” they said.
Brooklyn Center is nine miles (15 kilometers) northwest of the heavily guarded Hennepin County Government Center where Chauvin is on trial.
“We are in pain right now, and we recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” Mayor Mike Elliott said Monday.
Prosecutors called nearly 40 witnesses in the high-profile Chauvin trial including medical experts, current and former police officers, Floyd’s brother, and bystanders to Floyd’s arrest, as they sought to prove his death was due to asphyxiation by the officers detaining him.
Prominent cardiologist Jonathan Rich testified 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.” (AFP)