New protests erupted Tuesday night in Minneapolis despite a curfew after a police officer killed a young black man fatally when she confused her gun with her taser, sparking tensions in an American city already at the forefront of the murder trial of George Floyd.
Just before 9pm local time (0200GMT Tuesday), almost two hours after the curfew took effect, dozens of protesters continued waving signs and chanting slogans in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Station, where Sunday’s death occurred.
The police fired tear gas at the protesters several times and ordered them to disperse.
This was the second night in a row of protests after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot by police while driving with his girlfriend.
In a police video camera released earlier Monday in the Brooklyn Center, an officer shouts “Taser! Taser! Taser!” but instead shoots a gun at the victim.
“The officer drew his gun instead of their taser,” said Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.
Gannon said it was his belief that the official, now on leave pending an investigation, “intended to distribute their tasers but instead fired Mr Wright with a single bullet.”
“This was an unintentional discharge that led to Mr Wright’s tragic death,” Gannon said. “There is nothing I can say to reduce the pain of Mr Wright’s family.”
Wright’s killings sparked overnight protests in the Brooklyn Center and the looting of a mall, and authorities in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, including the Brooklyn Center, announced a curfew from 7 p.m. (0000 GMT) Monday through 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
In the body comb videos, police are seen pulling Wright out of his car after stopping him for a traffic violation and discovering that he had an outstanding order.
When officers try to handcuff Wright, he strikes them and gets back in the car. A female police officer shouts, “I’m going to chase you” and then “Taser! Taser! Taser!” standard police procedure before an officer shoots one of the stun guns.
“Holy shit, I shot him,” the officer says as Wright, mortally wounded, drives away. He crashed his car a few blocks away.
How the official misunderstood his gun as a taser was unclear.
Gannon said police are trained to place small arms “on our dominant side and our taser on our weak side.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) identified the official late Monday as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force.
President Joe Biden called the assassination “tragic” but warned of possible violent unrest.
“I think we have to wait and see what the investigation shows,” Biden said.
“In the meantime, I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no motivation, no one, for looting,” he added. “Peaceful protests – understandable.”
The protests cost the defense attorney for former officer Derek Chauvin, who faces murder and death charges for George Floyd’s death, to ask the judge who presides over the high-profile case to dismiss the jury.
Judge Peter Cahill refused, saying “this is a completely different case.”
Chauvin faces murder and death 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 spectator who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes while the handcuffed 46-year-old black man complained several times that he could not breathe.
The video was about protests against racial justice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.
The Brooklyn Center, where Wright was shot, is a northwest suburb of Minneapolis that is not far from the heavily guarded Hennepin County Government Center where Chauvin is facing trial.
Officials fired tear gas and flashed to disperse a crowd of hundreds gathered outside a Brooklyn Center police station after Wright was shot. National Guard troops were deployed.
“We’re in pain right now, and we realize this could not have happened at a worse time,” said Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott.
The Minnesota Twins announced that they are postponing their Monday baseball game against the Boston Red Sox “out of respect for the tragic events that occurred yesterday at the Brooklyn Center.”
The US professional basketball and hockey leagues are also postponing Monday games involving Minnesota teams.
Prosecutors are trying to prove Floyd’s death was due to the suffocation of the officials carrying out the arrest and have called on several medical experts to strengthen their case.
Chauvin’s lawyer claims that Floyd’s death was due to his consumption of the illegal drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine and the underlying health condition.
Prominent cardiologist Jonathan Rich testified Monday that Floyd’s death was caused by “low oxygen levels” that were “induced by the prone restraint and positional speed to which he was exposed.”
“I see no evidence at all that an overdose of fentanyl caused Mr Floyd’s death,” Rich said.
Ex-police officer and law professor Seth Stoughton also testified that he thought the force used against Floyd was “excessive”.
“The knee over Mr Floyd’s neck and the prone restraint were unreasonable,” Stoughton said. “No reasonable officer would believe that it was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force.”
Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, 39, also took the testimony and told emotionally stories from her childhood.
Judge Cahill told members of the jury that he expected Chauvin’s defense to begin his presentation on Tuesday.