BROOKLYN CENTER, MN – Daunte Wright, the 20 year-old who was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop gone awry in April, has been painted as a violent repeat criminal by two civil lawsuits that have been filed against his estate this week, according to reports.
The lawsuits allege that Wright shot and seriously wounding two individuals on separate occasions, including a 16 year-old boy and a former classmate.
Wright had been pulled over for a routine traffic stop on April 11 when police discovered that he had an arrest warrant on firearms charges; according to released bodycam footage, while he was being placed under arrest, Wright became combative, actively resisted arrest, and attempted to enter his vehicle to flee the scene.
At that time, Kim Potter, 48, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, threatened to tase Wright but drew her firearm instead and shot the suspect in the chest, fatally wounding him. Police Chief Tim Gannon later claimed that Potter did this accidently, and the officer has since been charged with Manslaughter in connection with Wright’s death.
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At the time of Wright’s death, multiple protests broke out against police brutality; his own criminal past, which some news outlets had uncovered at the time, was relatively minor, including misdemeanor convictions for selling drugs and disorderly conduct. However, the two civil suits filed against Wright’s estate paint the deceased youth in an entirely different light.
In May 2019, Caleb Livingston, 16, was shot in the head by Wright at a Full Stop gas station in Minneapolis, one of the suits alleges, leaving the victim in a “vegetative state” known as unresponsive wakefulness syndrome.
Seven months later, Wright was charged with aggravated robbery after he allegedly choked a woman at gunpoint while demanding her rent money from her.
“Give me the f**king money,” Wright said to her, according to the criminal complaint. “I know you have it.”
Wright later violated his probation in the robbery case he allegedly waved a handgun in a Minneapolis street before throwing it away and running from responding police units. The warrant issued in connection with that incident was the reason officers attempted to take Wright into custody during the April 11 traffic stop, reports say.
A second civil lawsuit alleges that Wright and another individual shot a former classmate Joshua Hodges in the leg while carjacking him; the victim’s fibula was broken and an artery struck, the suit says, leaving him with permanent damage.
“[Wright] was accidentally killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11, 2021, approximately three weeks after his crimes against [Hodges],” the lawsuit says. “After that accidental death, a false narrative began establishing [Wright] as a young person that young people looked up to, when in fact a warrant was in place for his violations of law on bond for a past crime. [He] had previously chosen a life of crime.”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Wright family, called the two civil lawsuits filed this week “character assassination.”