Daunte Wright has been remembered by friends as upbeat and gregarious, someone who loved to play basketball and was a supportive father to his son, Daunte Jr., who was a year old when Mr. Wright, 20, was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop.
“He always said he couldn’t wait to make his son proud,” Katie Bryant, Mr. Wright’s mother, said at his funeral in April. “Junior was the joy of his life, and he lived for him every single day, and now he’s not going to be able to see him.”
Mr. Wright’s death came during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb when an officer, Kimberly Potter, fired a single shot from her handgun, apparently mistaking it for her Taser.
Mr. Wright had been working at Taco Bell and a Famous Footwear shoe store shortly before he died, and was considering a career in carpentry, his mother testified in court. She said he had also enrolled in Summit Academy, a vocational school, about two months before he was killed. He had six siblings and was living at his parents’ home with his two younger sisters when he was killed.
A little over a month after his death, a lawsuit against Mr. Wright’s family raised questions about whether Mr. Wright was involved in a violent dispute in May 2019.
The woman who filed the lawsuit claimed that Mr. Wright had shot her son — a former friend of his — in the head in Minneapolis leaving him severely disabled, possibly because the man had “beat up” Mr. Wright earlier that month. The lawsuit offers no direct evidence tying Mr. Wright to the shooting, which remains unsolved. Katie Wright has called the claims hurtful, and told The Star Tribune: “To run with allegations like that is pretty bad, whether they are true or not true.”
The judge overseeing the trial of Ms. Potter has said Mr. Wright’s conduct before he was killed — including the allegation that he shot the man and any previous arrests — can only be brought up at trial if it is shown that Ms. Potter knew about it at the time of the traffic stop.
Many who knew Mr. Wright have acknowledged that he had made mistakes but had been trying to improve his life for his son.
A friend, Emajay Driver, said that Mr. Wright had “loved to make people laugh.” As a freshman in high school, Mr. Wright had been voted a class clown. “There was never a dull moment,” Mr. Driver said.
Delivering a eulogy at the funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he was told that Minneapolis had not seen a funeral procession so large since Prince, the musician who was born and raised in Minneapolis, died in 2016.
“You thought he was just some kid with an air freshener,” Mr. Sharpton said at Mr. Wright’s funeral, referring to the air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which prosecutors said was one reason that the police stopped Mr. Wright’s car. Mr. Sharpton added: “He was a prince, and all of Minneapolis has stopped today to honor the prince of Brooklyn Center.”