President Joe Biden called for “peace and calm” on Monday following an evening of protests after a police officer in a Minneapolis suburb shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man during a traffic stop.
Biden called the shooting death of Daunte Wright on Sunday “a really tragic thing” and said he watched “fairly graphic” body camera footage from the officer who fired the fatal shot.
“The question is was it an accident? Was it intentional?” Biden told reporters at the White House. “That remains to be determined by a full-blown investigation.”
“I think we’ve got to wait and see what the investigation shows – and the entire investigation,” he said.
Biden stressed there is “absolutely no justification” for looting and violence.
“Peaceful protest is understandable,” he said. “And the fact is that we do know that the anger, pain, and trauma that exists in the Black community in that environment is real – it’s serious, and it’s consequential. But that does not justify violence.”
He added: “We should listen to Dante’s mom who is calling for peace and calm.”
Wright’s death Sunday night in Brooklyn Center, 10 miles south of Minneapolis, came as the city already was on edge in the middle of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who faces murder charges in the death of George Floyd last May.
Police responded to protests Sunday with riot gear as demonstrators gathered in Brooklyn Center, mourning Wright’s death. Video posted to Twitter showed police firing gas and a chemical agent at protesters who gathered at the police department Sunday night.
A woman who identified herself as Wright’s mother, according to a Facebook Live video, said her son was pulled over because of air fresheners hanging in his rearview mirror. Police in Brooklyn Center said in a statement the driver they pulled over had an outstanding warrant and got back into the vehicle when they tried to take him into custody.
On Monday, police released the officer’s body camera footage and said the city’s police chief said the officer may have intended to fire a Taser.
Biden said he has spoken to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and other local law enforcement officials. He said he hasn’t yet spoken to Wright’s family but that they remain in his prayers.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the Biden administration was saddened by Wright’s death.
The shooting “is a reminder of the pain, the anger, the trauma, the exhaustion that many communities across the country have felt as we see these incidents continue to occur,” she said.