Washington, Apr 12 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Monday lamented the “tragic” death of African American Daunte Wright, who was shot to death on the weekend by a police officer near Minneapolis, Minnesota, but he called on the public for calm and to avoid “violence” in the protests that erupted over the incident.
The president also said that the public should wait for the full investigation into the matter to be conducted, adding that the police body camera videos – which the local police chief elected to release – are “rather graphic.”
“Question is – was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full-blown investigation,” Biden said.
“It’s really a tragic thing that happened,” said Biden in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office referring to the death of Wright, 20, who was unarmed, during a traffic stop on Sunday.
“I think we’ve got to wait and see what the investigation shows – the entire investigation,” the president said.
Biden delivered his remarks despite the fact that, just minutes before, the local police had described the incident as an “accidental discharge” by the as yet officially unidentified white female officer, who said she wanted to use a taser on the young man to immobilize him but grabbed her firearm from its holster instead.
The president emphasized that “there is absolutely no justification – none – for looting. No justification for violence” in protests that arise as a result of the shooting.
On Sunday, protesters threw rocks and other objects at the Police Department building in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, the city where the shooting occurred.
“Peaceful protest,” he said, is “understandable. And the fact is that, you know, 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 it will not justify violence and/or looting.”
“In the meantime, I’m calling for peace and calm. And we should listen to Daunte’s mom, who is calling for peace and calm,” the president added.
To disperse demonstrators on Sunday, police used tear gas and rubber bullets, while local authorities decreed a curfew.
At a Monday press conference, local authorities showed a video of the incident in which three officers are seen to approach Wright’s vehicle, one of them intending to handcuff him, but the man resisted.
Then, as can be seen in the video, a struggle ensued and the police officer drew her pistol and shouted in warning “I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” after which one shot is heard and then the officer exclaimed in surprise “I just shot him” as Wright drove away in his vehicle, only to crash it a couple of blocks away.
The police said that they originally stopped the vehicle because it did not have its papers in order, asking Wright for his identification and then informed him that they had a pending arrest warrant for him, whereupon they tried to arrest him. It was at that moment that the man broke free from the officers, got back into his vehicle and was shot.
The incident revived tensions in Minneapolis, which has been on tenterhooks over the ongoing trial there of white former police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of African American George Floyd, an incident recorded on multiple videos last year that sparked historic protests against police brutality and racism.