PORTLAND (Oregon): Police officers chase demonstrators during a protest against the killing of Daunte Wright.—AFP
PORTLAND (Oregon): Police officers chase demonstrators during a protest against the killing of Daunte Wright.—AFP

MINNEAPOLIS: Convul­sed by two converging cases of racially charged violence, Minneapolis grappled with tragedy on Tuesday as the father of the latest police shooting victim said he “can’t accept” that his son’s killing was a mistake.

Tensions have soared over the death on Sunday of African American Daunte Wright near the Midwestern US city, a community already on edge over the ongoing trial of a policeman accused of killing another black man, George Floyd.

Wright, 20, was shot dead during a traffic stop by a police officer whom the force later said appeared to have confused her handgun with her taser, in a horrible accident. The victim’s father Aubrey angrily rejected the explanation.

“A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right,” he told ABC television, sitting alongside his sobbing wife Katie.

“I can’t accept that. I’ve lost my son. He’s never coming back.” In an act of solidarity, members of the Floyd and Wright families were to join forces later on Tuesday and publicly speak out against police brutality and systemic discrimination that has prompted an American reckoning on racial injustice.

Shortly before the families were to speak, prosecutors rested their case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for murder and manslaughter in the case of Floyd, whose death last year shocked the nation.

The defence immediately launched into its case. Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson contends that Floyd died from underlying health problems mixed with his use of drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine, and not from Chauvin’s actions.

In a video taken by a bystander at the scene, the 45-year-old Chauvin, who is white, was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed 46-year-old black man — arrested for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill — complained repeatedly that he “can’t breathe”.

The recording touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

The latest police killing of Wright has triggered fresh tumult. Around 40 protesters were arrested overnight in Minneapolis as a second night of violence broke out despite the imposition of a curfew.

Several officers suffered minor injuries and there was sporadic looting, law enforcement officials said.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, the Minneapolis suburb where Wright was killed.

Demonstrators taunted police through wire fencing, and carried signs saying “Jail all racist killer cops” and “No justice, no peace.” Police fired tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.

In police body camera video, the officer shouts “Taser! Taser! Taser!” but instead fires a gun at the victim.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2021

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