People protest the police killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.ImageSPACE/Zuma

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Before leading a discussion of his infrastructure plan in the Oval Office on Monday, President Biden took a moment to acknowledge the death of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man whom police shot during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday.

“I haven’t called Daunte Wright’s family, but my prayers are with their family,” Biden said. “It’s a really tragic thing that happened.”

An officer shot Wright in what police are calling an “accidental discharge.” In video released by the department, an officer yells “Taser!” multiple times before firing her gun. “Holy shit, I just shot him,” the officer says. “It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said.

Wright was reportedly stopped for traffic violations. Police chose to arrest him because of an existing warrant, according to the New York Times.

As my colleague Madison Pauly reported, the suburb’s police department works with the private company Lexipol, “which sells policy handbooks and training modules to police departments across the country.” Critics have pushed back against this practice:

According to the company, the policies it drafts for police—including those that govern the use of force—are based on “best practices,” court precedent, and federal and state laws, and police departments are encouraged to customize them.

But some experts criticize the policies for being overly permissive or vague, giving officers as much latitude as legally possible. And that’s by design. “One of our secret sauces, so to speak, is rarely if ever will you see the use of the word ‘shall’ in our policies,” Bruce Praet, an ex-cop and one of Lexipol’s founders, said in a 2019 webinar. “Nothing in police work is black and white except the car you drive…So policies need to be flexible.”

Biden called for a “full-blown investigation” into Wright’s death to determine the officer’s intent. “In the meantime,” he said, “I want to make it clear, again, there is absolutely no justification…for looting.”

Biden’s remarks, though tempered, stand in contrast to former President Trump’s refusal to address the killing of George Floyd in the months after he died under the knee of then-officer Derek Chauvin, even as protests against police violence erupted across the nation. Instead of addressing racism in law enforcement, Trump tended to call for more policing, often repeating—and tweeting—the phrase, “law and order.” In a Minneapolis courtroom near where Wright was killed, Chauvin’s trial is ongoing.

“We do know that the anger, pain, and trauma that exists in the Black community in that environment is real,” Biden said. But until a thorough investigation takes place, “I’m calling for peace and calm.”

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate