Residents of Minneapolis endured a second night of shocking riots yesterday, triggered by the shooting of a black man by a police officer the previous day. Stoking tensions further is the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman accused of murdering convicted criminal and drug abuser George Floyd, as it nears a verdict.
On Monday night, hundreds of menacing protesters targeted the Brooklyn Police Department located in a suburb of Minneapolis, breaching a 7.00 pm curfew imposed by the authorities. Scenes quickly turned ugly as shops nearby were looted. Firefighters needed to be deployed to a Dollar Tree store which had been burgled. Outside the police station, after warning the crowd, officers issued a dispersal order and used tear gas and flashbangs to break up the demonstrators who could be heard chanting “you can’t stop the revolution”.
According to reports, the angry mob launched smoke canisters and even fireworks back at law enforcement. Officers received minor injuries after being “pretty significantly” shelled with debris, leading to 40 arrests.
The scenes mirrored rioting the previous night in the same suburb in reaction to the killing of Daunte Wright. The twenty-year-old was fatally shot by a police officer who mistakenly reached for his firearm instead of his taser.
Brooklyn PD released a video in which an officer can be heard yelling “Taser, Taser, Taser”. He then cries out: “Holy shit, I shot him”.
Coppers were trying to bring Wright into custody after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Body camera footage shows Wright evading arrest, attempting to get back into his car after being summoned out of the vehicle.
Local police chief, Tim Gannon was adamant his officer was reaching for his taser as indicated by the footage.
“As I watched the video and listen to the officer’s commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet,” said Gannon.
“This appears to me from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr Wright.”
The explosive backdrop to events over the last 48 hours is Chauvin’s hearing, which had entered its penultimate week. Yesterday, a request was made to the judge to have the trial sequestered.
Chauvin’s lawyer is concerned the shooting of Wright on Sunday, which brings back memories of Floyd’s death almost a year ago, could influence the jury. Those concerns have now been heightened by the second night of unrest in the same city.
Lawyer for the defence, Eric Nelson said the shooting led to “some fairly extensive civil unrest that occurred.”
“I would note for the court that we have at least one juror who is a resident of that particular city and other jurors who have connections to Brooklyn Center,” he added.
Judge Peter Cahill denied the request. Yesterday featured Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd take the witness stand and break down in tears in the already emotionally driven trial.
Judge Cahill said he expects the defence and the prosecution to make their closing remarks next week