Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old black man fatally shot during a traffic stop in Minnesota, was “afraid police would do something like this to him,” according to a local educator who mentored Wright.
Jonathan Mason, a youth development specialist who became close with Wright when he was a student at Edison High School in Minneapolis said he, Wright and other young black men often talked about how to handle interactions with cops.
“He was afraid police would do something like this to him,” Mason said during a vigil Monday night attended by hundreds of people, according to the Star Tribune.
“We talked about this daily. We talked about police brutality. We talk about these things in the black community.
“Those little things will maybe haunt me,” Mason continued. “That maybe I didn’t talk to him about the air freshener.”
He added: “The reality is, Daunte is still a young man. He had a huge future and it was snatched because of a huge mistake.”
Meanwhile, Wright’s mother said during the vigil that her “heart is literally broken in 1,000 pieces” — while relatives remembered her son as a good-natured father who worked several jobs to support his own 1-year-old son.
They also rejected the notion that his death was the result of a mere accident after he was pulled over for an expired vehicle registration.
“My heart is broken in a thousand pieces… I miss him so much, and it’s only been a day,” his mom, Katie Wright, said as she sobbed.
“He was my life, he was my son and I can never get that back. Because of a mistake? Because of an accident?” she added. “I just need everyone to know that he is much more than this.”
The grieving mom added that “he had a smile that was angelic,” the Star Tribune reported.
Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Wright’s son Daunte Jr. also spoke.
“He just made you feel better when he came around, and I’m just hurt that he’s gone, and I can’t believe it,” Whitaker said, WCCO reported.
“He loved his son, and it’s not fair that his son won’t have his dad in his life. I can’t really believe that this happened, so like I’m still trying to like process it,” she said.
Mason remembered a Wright as a charming young man to whom he became closely attached.
“I just loved his personality,” he said.
“He was someone who had a future. Daunte was funny, he was lively,” the youth mentor said, adding that he recalled Wright hoped to own a business one day.
“He was the center of attention. He had a very, very welcoming personality. He would joke with you back and forth.
“It hurts my heart to see the young people I worked with gunned down,” he said.
Dallas Bryant, one of Wright’s six siblings, called the slain man a “good kid,” adding: “My brother lost his life because they were trigger happy.”
He said Wright “was an amazing uncle and a wonderful father” to his son, Daunte Jr.
“Just your average 20-year-old. He liked to drive around, listen to music,” he added, the Tribune reported.
The vigil was held as civil unrest gripped the Minneapolis suburb where hundreds of protesters braved a steady downpour and defied a curfew ordered by Gov. Tim Walz
They clashed with police in riot gear as darkness fell outside police headquarters in Brooklyn Center.
Wright was killed just 10 miles from the courthouse where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial on murder charges in the deadly arrest of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man.