By Nicholas Pfosi and Jonathan Allen
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (Reuters) – A police officer in a Minneapolis suburb fatally shot a young Black man during a traffic stop for what his mother said was air fresheners dangling from his rear-view mirror, sparking protests that spilled into Monday morning.
The shooting and subsequent unrest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, came hours before the resumption of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former white Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd. The trial began its 11th day on Monday in a courtroom less than 10 miles (16 km) away from the incident.
The Brooklyn Center Police Department said it would hold a briefing at 11 a.m. CDT (1600 GMT) on the shooting.
Relatives and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz identified the man killed by police as Daunte Wright, 20. Walz said in a statement on Sunday that he was monitoring the unrest as “our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters she had received a call from her son on Sunday afternoon telling her that police had pulled him over for having air fresheners dangling from his rear-view mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota. She could hear police tell her son to get out the vehicle, she said.
“I heard scuffling, and I heard police officers say, ‘Daunte, don’t run,'” she said through tears. The call ended. When she dialed his number again, his girlfriend answered and said he was dead in the driver’s seat.
In a statement, Brooklyn Center police said officers pulled over a man for a traffic violation just before 2 p.m., and found he had an outstanding arrest warrant. As police tried to arrest him, he got back in the car. One officer shot the man, who was not identified in the statement. The man drove several blocks before striking another vehicle and dying at the scene.
Late Sunday, a group of about 100 to 200 protesters gathered around the Brooklyn Center police headquarters and threw projectiles at the building, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a livestreamed news briefing. The group was later dispersed.
Another group of protesters broke into about 20 businesses at a regional shopping center, with some businesses looted, according to the police and local media reports.
Brooklyn Center’s mayor ordered a curfew until 6 a.m. (1100 GMT) on Monday morning, and the local school superintendent said the district would move to remote learning on Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”
Anti-police protesters have already spent recent days rallying in Minneapolis as the trial of Chauvin enters its third week in a courthouse ringed with barriers and National Guard soldiers.
In response to the protests, Derek Chauvin’s lead attorney, Eric Nelson, renewed his request to have the jury sequestered by having members moved to a hotel. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill again denied the request, saying he would not sequester jurors until they begin deliberations in downtown Minneapolis, which is already heavily fortified against potential unrest.
(Reporting by Nicholas Pfosi in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and Jonathan Allen in Minneapolis; additional reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; editing by Jonathan Oatis)