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National

Families Of George Floyd, Daunte Wright Stand Together In Minnesota

NOEL KING, HOST:

Another night of protests in Brooklyn Center, Minn.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Daunte Wright.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Daunte Wright.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting) Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Daunte Wright.

KING: Demonstrators marched outside of the police department and an FBI office. They're protesting the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during what began as a traffic stop. The officer who shot him, Kim Potter, has resigned from the force, and the police chief in Brooklyn Center has also resigned.

Benjamin Crump represents the Wright family and is on the line with me now. Good morning, sir.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Good morning.

KING: Let me start by asking you, we have the officer involved, Kim Potter, resigned. The police chief resigned. What would you like to see happen next?

CRUMP: Well, obviously, the family is devastated. They want the officer to be held accountable to the full extent of the law. And they - now everybody's saying, oh, it was an accident and that she should be allowed to resign, and that way she gets to keep her pension, her benefits and so forth. And they - when you compare what they lost, everything - Daunte lost his future. Daunte Jr. lost his father. So they don't think it's fair that she say, oh, I'm sorry, I made a mistake, even though a gun weighs a lot different than a Taser. And she's a 26-year veteran with the gun on her right side always and the Taser on the left side. So they don't think she should be allowed to just resign and get her - all her benefits. They think she should be terminated. They think that is so unfair.

KING: Let me ask you a question about the legal process here. Are you concerned that Kim Potter's resignation means there won't be an extensive review of what happened on that day or will there be an investigation regardless?

CRUMP: I believe there'll be an investigation regardless because we, the family and the public is going to demand an investigation because we just can't believe that 10 miles from the courthouse where Derek Chauvin is on trial for killing George Floyd that you have a police officer exercise such little standard of care nor the gravity of what's going on not only in Minnesota but all over America. And so it's just - I can't even fathom that they killed another unarmed Black man during the trial of Derek Chauvin. So I think that there will be a thorough investigation. People are just outraged by this, especially Black people.

KING: And, Mr. Crump, have you heard anything specific from local prosecutors about plans to file charges against Kim Potter?

CRUMP: We only talked to them - the families all talked to them that they are seriously considering whether or not bring charges, and that decision will be made today is what they have said.

KING: OK. OK. So we should learn something later today. Let me ask you if you know, is the Wright family planning to file suit against Brooklyn Center officials or the police department?

CRUMP: The Wright family expects and my legal team expects to explore every possible legal remedy to give them justice for this unjust killing of this young man who had his whole life ahead of him.

KING: There has been some...

CRUMP: And remember, this was a traffic...

KING: Oh, go ahead, please.

CRUMP: This was a traffic citation. They could've just given him a ticket. But when it's marginalized minorities, especially Black people, it seems like the police engage in the most excessive use of force in every situation, whether you look at the lieutenant in Virginia, whether you look at George Floyd, they could've given a ticket. It was an allegation of a $20 bill that was a fake. They did not have to arrest George Floyd. But when it's a Black person, they always seem to do the most that they can do.

KING: Let me ask you a sensitive question. There has been some focus on the fact that there was an arrest warrant out for Daunte Wright and that he tried to get back into the car. He was sort of pulling away. As a lawyer, again, you're looking at the evidence, is this relevant and to what degree is it relevant?

CRUMP: I think that they're going to argue what's relevant. What we believe is relevant is the fact that he was not posing a threat to officers. He was doing, like most marginalized minorities, trying to run away and get away from the police because Black men in particular are afraid when the police interacts with them because it normally ends up in bad results. And so there was no reason for her to even tase him.

We believe that there are two different Americas that exist. Had this been a white American citizen, we don't believe they would have engaged in tasing him or even in any way killing him. We know that because when young white men commit mass murders, they always seem to take them alive. But when a Black person is running away from the police, we seem to be such a dangerous threat that, again, they engage in the most excessive use of force. And we have to change this. This is not a training issue. This is not a policy issue. This is an implicit bias issue. They don't treat Black American citizens like they treat white American citizens when they pull them over. And that is just a fact.

KING: Derek Chauvin's defense is presenting its case now this week. Yesterday, a former police officer testified that he thought Chauvin was justified in his use of force. From what I understand, you're not representing George Floyd's family in the criminal trial, so you're watching from a separate room. What was your reaction to that officer's testimony?

CRUMP: Unbelievable - the fact that he said George Floyd was resisting arrest when he was facedown on the ground and handcuffed, and he said because his arms were not perfectly behind him, that was some form of resistance. And then the state prosecutor said, but he was trying to lift his chest so he could breathe. And you believe a man simply trying to breathe while he's in a prone position facedown and handcuffed is resisting - it makes no sense. I believe it's ludicrous. Many other people believe it's ludicrous. It was overdose of excessive force. That's what killed George Floyd.

KING: Attorney Benjamin Crump, thank you for taking the time this morning. We appreciate it.

CRUMP: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.