MINNEAPOLIS — Daunte Wright was remembered as a “jokester” and loving family man at a packed funeral Thursday — 11 days after he was shot dead by a white cop who said she accidentally grabbed her gun instead of her Taser.
“Why did this happen?” Pastor Carmen Means of the Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis told mourners of the question she said was on everyone’s mind.
“But the beauty and the audacity of faith is trusting a God we cannot understand.”
Emotion was high Thursday afternoon at the church, where about 1,000 mourners — some in tears and many in red, Wright’s favorite color — gathered in hopes of getting inside.
Progressive “Squad” lawmaker Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Minnesota’s two Democratic US senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, were among the attendees, as were members of the family of George Floyd.
They were watched by a throng of press and 20 assault rifle-toting Minnesota Freedom Fighters, a self-described security unit that has patrolled at previous demonstrations.
In an obituary printed in the funeral program, Wright was remembered as a “jokester” who was most himself when around his loved ones.
“Daunte was taken from his family and friends too soon and leaves a hole in their heart that will never be filled,” the obituary said.
The Rev. Al Sharpton is slated to give the eulogy at the funeral; also speaking will be members of Wright’s family and Floyd family civil attorney Ben Crump, who entered the church holding the hand of Wright’s mother, Katie.
Wright, 20, was resisting arrest but unarmed when he was shot during an April 11 traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, a working-class suburb 10 miles north of Minneapolis.
The father of a 2-year-old boy, he’d been pulled over for the most minor of offenses, an expired registration on his license plate, police officials said.
But cops then discovered he had an outstanding warrant related to an open armed robbery case. Wright was shot as he struggled to get back in his car as cops tried to cuff him.
“Taser! Taser! Taser!” Officer Kim Potter can be heard saying on police bodycam footage moments before the single shot from the gun she’d grabbed instead rings out.
“Oh s–t! I just shot him,” the 26-year police veteran says as the dying man’s car lurches out of the picture. He was pronounced dead where he crashed several blocks away.
Wright’s funeral comes two days after guilty verdicts were handed down in the Floyd police murder case in nearby Minneapolis.
Both racially charged cases — the unarmed suspects were black, the killer cops were white — have fed into angry and sometimes violent protests against police racism and brutality.
On Wednesday, hundreds turned out for the open-casket funeral of Wright, who family members recalled had spent months in a hospital intensive care unit when his son was born prematurely.
Brooklyn Center’s police chief has said of the shooting, “This was an accidental discharge.” He has since resigned.
Potter also has resigned from the police department; she has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and has yet to enter a plea. She remains free on $100,000 bail pending trial.
The prosecutor has vowed to “do everything I can to get a conviction” in the legally tricky case.
Wright will be buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.