As facts about the deadly shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center come to light, the original narrative about the pretext for his encounter with police officers has been proven false.
Immediately after body camera footage surfaced online showing former Brooklyn Center Police officer Kimberly Potter shooting Wright, rumors swirled online that Wright was pulled over because he had an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror.
“A Minnesota educator who mentored Daunte Wright while he was in high school said he is haunted by conversations the two had—and by his perceived failure to mention that police sometimes use the sight of car air fresheners as a pretext to stop Black men,” the blog said, linking to a story that peddled the false narrative.
A Minnesota educator who mentored Daunte Wright while he was in high school said he is haunted by conversations the two had—and by his perceived failure to mention that police sometimes use the sight of car air fresheners as a pretext to stop Black men https://t.co/7yCF4d4dQV
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) April 14, 2021
Quest Love, drummer for The Roots, shared the lie with his nearly three and a half million followers on Twitter:
Damn….all I typed was “Is It……..” & Google knew EXACTLY what I was asking (……..illegal to have air freshener in your vehicle?) 😏
— B.R.O.theR. ?uestion (@questlove) April 14, 2021
It turns out, Wright was initially pulled over because his license plate tags were expired. That is a common violation for which motorists are stopped by police.
During the traffic stop, police learned that Wright had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, originally stemming from a December 2019 incident in which he allegedly attempted to rob a woman at gunpoint for $820.
After being charged with aggravated robbery, Wright was released on $100,000 bail. But his bail was revoked in July for “failure to not possess a firearm or ammunition,” and for not keeping in touch with his probation officer. A new arrest warrant was then issued, and the Brooklyn Center Police attempted to take him into custody on that outstanding warrant, which allegedly led to the struggle between Potter and Wright.
Claims that Wright did not know there was a warrant for his arrest were also deemed to be false.
“In recent days several people have claimed on the Internet that Wright may not even have known about the warrant because it was sent to the wrong address and returned to the court by the US Postal Service,” Daily Mail reported. “But that letter, sent out on February 2 and returned to the court three days later was just to advise Wright of a change of date for his court hearing.”
In particular, the air freshener lie is reminiscent to the media-crafted narrative surrounding the death of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in 2014. Wilson was cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting, but “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” now a common slogan for Black Lives Matter activists, was born out of that incident despite the fact that Brown never put his hands up or surrendered to police.
Potter resigned after 26 years as a Brooklyn Center Police officer Tuesday, along with police Chief Tim Gannon.
Violent riots have rocked Minneapolis, of which Brooklyn Center is a suburb, over Wright’s death. The unrest comes during an already rocky time for the city, as former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin stands trial for murder in the 2020 shooting death of George Floyd.
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