The city of Brooklyn Center, Minn., has agreed to pay $3.25 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit filed last year by the family of Daunte Wright, the unarmed Black man killed during a traffic stop by a police officer who said she mistook her gun for a Taser.
The agreement will change the way police officers are taught to handle traffic stops, the family’s lawyers said in a statement.
Lawyers said they believe that $3.25 million is the “third-largest civil rights wrongful death settlement of its kind in the state of Minnesota and the largest such settlement for a city in Minnesota outside Minneapolis.”
Jason M. Hiveley, an outside attorney representing the city, said it and its insurer "believe the early resolution of this matter will permit the family to begin the healing process and will give the City an opportunity to rebuild the relationship between its Police Department and the community.”
“Nothing can explain or fill the emptiness in our lives without Daunte or our continued grief at the senseless way he died,” Daunte’s parents, Arbuey and Katie Wright, said in a statement shared by several news outlets.
“It was important to us that his loss be used for positive change in the community, not just for a financial settlement for our family,” they added.
Wright’s family sued the city after one of its police officers, Kimberly Potter, shot Wright during a traffic stop in April 2021. Potter resigned from the police force soon afterward. She was later convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison.
Brooklyn Center police say they stopped Wright in the Minneapolis suburb because he had expired car registration tags. Wright’s mother said it was because he had air fresheners on his rearview mirror.
Officers found that he had an outstanding warrant for illegally carrying a weapon, for which he was told he was being placed under arrest. Wright, who was unarmed, resisted as the officers attempted to detain him. Potter, who is White, stepped in, calling for a Taser. She said she mistakenly took out her gun instead.
Potter’s trial was one of several that year — including one in Georgia that resulted in the conviction of three men for killing Ahmaud Arbery — that set off a fierce controversy over the treatment of Black people by law enforcement in the United States. In March, Minneapolis paid the family of the late George Floyd $27 million after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes, killing him. The scene was captured on video and sparked national and global protests.
On Tuesday, Jeff Storms, one of the lawyers representing Wright’s family, said the financial agreement with the city struck “a balance between holding Brooklyn Center accountable, while not undermining the financial stability of the city or limiting the services it provides.”
Co-counsel Antonio M. Romanucci said the deal “will provide a meaningful measure of accountability to the family for their deep loss.”
They said the city has agreed to facilitate “changes in its policies and training related to traffic stops for equipment violations that do not interfere with the safety of the driver, passenger or members of the community.”
Kim Bellware and Paulina Villegas contributed to this report.