US city to pay $3.2m in police killing of Daunte Wright

The tentative settlement also includes changes to police policies and training officers in traffic stops.

A suburb in the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota has agreed to pay $3.2m to the family of Daunte Wright, a Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer who said she confused her gun for her taser.

Lawyers said in a statement late on Tuesday that the settlement of the wrongful death lawsuit that Wright’s family filed against Brooklyn Center will not be finalised until an agreement has been reached regarding more training for the city’s police officers.

“The comprehensive settlement in this tragic case will provide a meaningful measure of accountability to the family for their deep loss,” they said. “The family hopes his legacy is a positive one and prevents any other family from enduring this type of grief.”

Wright was shot once in the chest in April 2021 by Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter, who is white, after the 20-year-old was stopped for having expired registration tags on his car. The now-former officer was subsequently convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison.

The killing prompted a nationwide outcry, with many seeing it as yet another example of unjustified police violence against Black Americans. It occurred near where Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, murdered George Floyd, whose death helped set off demonstrations around the nation and the world.

The announcement comes amid a string of settlements involving police shootings of Black people. Last year, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay $27m to Floyd’s family, which lawyers said was the largest pretrial settlement of its kind in US history.

The city of Louisville, Kentucky agreed to pay the family of Breonna Taylor $12m and reform police practices in September 2020. Taylor was shot dead by police in her home during a botched raid.

Previously, Minnesota paid $20m to the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, after she called 911 to report a suspected assault behind her home in July 2017 and was fatally shot by Mohamed Noor, one of the officers who responded to her call. Noor is Somali American and Damond was white.

Wright’s family members “hope and believe the measures of change to policing, policies and training will create important improvements to the community in Daunte’s name,” said co-counsel Antonio M Romanucci. “Nothing can bring him back, but the family hopes his legacy is a positive one and prevents any other family from enduring the type of grief they will live with for the rest of their lives.”

The fallout from Wright’s death led the Brooklyn Center city council to pass a series of reforms, including the use of social workers and other trained professionals to respond to medical, mental health and social-needs calls that do not require police.

The changes also prohibit police from making arrests for low-level offences and require the city to use unarmed civilians to handle minor traffic violations.

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