"My heart is literally broken into a thousand pieces and I don't know what to do or what to say. But I just need everybody to know that he is much more than this."
Katie Wright is grieving the loss of her 20-year-old son, Daunte. He was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop on Sunday, not far from where George Floyd died last summer while pinned under the knee of former police officer Derek Chauvin.
Daunte was allegedly pulled over for having an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror, potentially blocking his view. His mom was on the phone with him during his final minutes of life—an unfathomable experience for any mother.
In an appearance on Good Morning America on Tuesday, Katie recounted everything she heard during that phone call. After he was pulled over by Brooklyn Center police, he called his mom. Because moms always know what to do. Moms know what to say; how to keep you calm and make you feel better. During her son's final moments, however, Katie was helpless.
After he was pulled over, Katie said she asked to speak to the police officers so she could provide them with insurance information. Because she's a mom, and that's what moms do. But she's also the mother of a Black son who was just pulled over by police—in the same state where George Floyd and Philando Castile, two Black men who also lost their lives at the hands of police officers. She said she heard the officers ask Daunte to exit his car. He had a female passenger in the car with him at the time of the incident.
Parents of Daunte Wright break silence after fatal shooting by police l GMA www.youtube.com
"Daunte said, 'For what, am I in trouble?' I heard the phone getting put down pretty hard. ... And then I heard scuffling and the girl that was with him screaming, and I heard an officer ask for them to hang up the phone and then I didn't hear anything else," the grieving mother claimed. "I tried to call back three, four times and the girl that was with him answered the phone and she said that they shot him and he was lying in the driver's seat unresponsive."
Katie heard the officer ask the passenger to hang up the phone. "After that, that's the last time I've seen my son," Katie said tearfully. "I haven't seen him since."
Per The Washington Post, during a press conference on Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Gannon said that Daunte had been pulled over for expired tags. After he gave his ID to an officer, a background check brought up an outstanding warrant for Daunte. This led the officers to attempt an arrest.
Daunte Wright: Minnesota Officer Meant to Fire Taser, Not Handgun, Chief Says www.youtube.com
A one-minute video clip played at the news conference showed two male officers approaching Wright's car on either side. After a brief conversation, the officer on the driver's side took Daunte out of the car and began to handcuff him. After beginning to struggle, a third officer, Kim Potter, can be heard threatening to use a Taser on Wright. She drew her weapon, yelled that she was going to Tase him, and then fired. She used her service weapon instead of her Taser, and Daunte Wright drove away while shot, crashed his car shortly after and died at the scene.
His father, Aubrey Wright, told the Washington Post that his son worked multiple jobs to support his two-year-old and wanted to get his GED.
"He was a great kid," Aubrey said. "He was a normal kid. He was never in serious trouble. He enjoyed spending time with his two-year-old son. He loved his son."
Daunte's family hopes to see that Officer Kim Potter is held accountable for "everything she's taken from us." Potter is currently on administrative leave from the police department until further notice.
Families of Black men and women who are killed by police don't often see the U.S. justice system work in their favor. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) report that Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police over the life course than are white men. Similarly, Black women are about 1.4 times more likely to be killed by police than are white women.
There are no accidents in police terror and white supremacy. Say his name. #DaunteWright— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) 1618256564.0
Daunte Wright was a son, a brother and the father to a two-year-old little boy. He was just 20 years old, barely far from being a child himself. During his last minutes alive, he knew he had a valid reason to be scared and reached out to his mom for comfort.
Because that's what children do when they're afraid, whether they're two or 20. And loving moms, like Katie Wright, always answer that call.
"He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much," she said on GMA. "He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby."
You can donate to the confirmed GoFundMe for Daunte Wright's family here.