The family of Daunte Wright gathered around his white coffin draped in red roses Wednesday, taking in one of the last times they would have to look at the 20-year-old’s face.
His mother, Katie Wright, gently reached out to touch him, collecting a quiet moment with her son as a crowd of mourners filed into the foyer of Shiloh Temple International Ministries to pay their respects. Wright’s father, Aubrey, at least one of his sisters and his 2-year-old son, Daunte Wright Jr., huddled at the front of the room as they embraced one another and cried.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who will deliver the eulogy at Wright’s funeral on Thursday, stood nearby, speaking to family.
The calm at Wednesday’s visitation for Wright contrasted to the previous weeks of anxiety, anger and grief that has gripped his home in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center and the region.
Wright was shot and killed on April 11 by a Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop. His death occurred in the shadow of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Unrest in Minnesota town offers warning to other U.S. suburbs, experts say.
Wright’s killing sparked days of protests that were met by a heavy police response. But Chauvin’s guilty verdict on Tuesday offered a brief reprieve from the tension. But those attending Wright’s wake said the Chauvin verdict was only a reminder of the injustice done to him.
“Minnesota doesn’t have the right to talk about what they got right until they get this right,” Sharpton told mourners.
Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd Sharpton decried mentions of Wright’s record and said the real questions must be reserved for Kim Potter, the 26-year-old veteran Brooklyn Center police officer who shot Wright with her service weapon. Potter thought she was holding her Taser instead of her pistol when she fired, police have said.
Police officer who shot Daunte Wright apparently meant to use Taser but fired gun, police chief says. “I want to know about her record,” Sharpton said. “Daunte didn’t hurt nobody.” He added that Wright’s grandmother told him that the visitation had fallen on the wedding anniversary of Wright’s parents. “You brought hate into their family, and we’re going to run it out and get them justice,” Sharpton said. “We’ve got to give them a wedding gift of justice.”
The visitation drew a large crowd of young mourners from the area, local Minnesota racial justice activists who had organized much of the action in support of the Floyd family, and civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Wright’s family did not speak publicly Wednesday, but in the past week they have signaled that they reject the police narrative that Potter shot Wright by mistake and said that she should face higher charges.
Potter, 48, was charged with second-degree manslaughter and is free on bond. She resigned from the department. The Washington County Attorney, who is handling the case, said additional charges could be added as the investigation continues.
At the visitation, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, pledged that Wright’s burial would not be the last time the community would come together for them.
“You won’t be fighting alone — we’ll be fighting with you,” said Crump, who also represented George Floyd’s family. “We’ll be fighting with you in and out of the courtroom to get justice for Daunte.”
Wright’s funeral, which also will be held at Shiloh, is not open to the public and begins at noon Central time.