President Joe Biden said Monday that he has seen the “fairly graphic” footage of police fatally shooting a Black man during a traffic stop just outside Minneapolis, and that he is waiting to learn more details about the incident.
“The question is, was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined,” Biden told reporters. “We do know that the anger, pain and trauma amidst the Black community is real.”
Police shot and killed Daunte Wright, 20, in the city of Brooklyn Center on Sunday after pulling him over. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon later described the shooting as “an accidental discharge” and said the officer who fired intended to use a Taser, not a handgun.
A lawyer for Wright demanded the officers responsible for his death be held responsible.
“This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane,” attorney Ben Crump said Monday. “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color? The growing number of Black men and women who have been killed or harmed by police is far too hefty a price for the equality we are seeking.”
The shooting sparked large protests in the area Sunday night, once again inflaming community outrage over law enforcement’s use of force against Black people.
Biden said Monday that whatever happened, it “does not justify violence and looting.”
Sunday’s shooting happened against the backdrop of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial for murder. George Floyd, a Black man, died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest last year.
Biden, who was running for president when Floyd died, said at the time that his death was a “tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident, but a part of an ingrained systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country.” But other remarks he made — including saying police should be trained to shoot dangerous individuals “in the leg instead of in the heart” — were a far cry from progressive groups’ demands that Democrats defund and overhaul law enforcement systems.