‘My heart is literally broken in 1,000 pieces,’ Daunte Wright’s mother says

Police fire dispersants into a crowd of protesters outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Sunday evening, April 11, 2021 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. (Jeff Wheeler/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
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John Reinan Star Tribune (TNS)

He was a happy-go-lucky kid with a smile that could light up a room, a young man with personality oozing from every pore. A devoted son, brother and father, Daunte Wright had a rare spark.

That spark was extinguished Sunday when Wright, 20, was shot dead by a Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop.

On Monday, family and friends remembered the young man as someone who enjoyed every joke, every laugh, every lively moment he created — someone who deserves to be remembered as more than the latest Black man to die at the hands of police.

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“I just need everyone to know that he is much more than this,” said his mother, Katie Wright, sobbing at a vigil attended by hundreds on the street where he died. “He had a smile that was angelic.

“My heart is literally broken in 1,000 pieces.”

Jonathan Mason mentored Wright several years ago when he was a student at Edison High School in Minneapolis and Mason was a youth development specialist. Mason remembers a charming youth to whom he became very attached.

“I just loved his personality,” Mason said, recalling that Wright hoped to own a business someday.

“He was someone who had a future. Daunte was funny, he was lively,” Mason said. “He was the center of attention. He had a very, very welcoming personality. He would joke with you back and forth.

“It hurts my heart to see the young people I worked with gunned down.”

Dallas Bryant, one of Wright’s six siblings, said his brother was “a good kid.

“He was an amazing uncle and a wonderful father” to his son, Daunte Jr., Bryant said. “Just your average 20-year-old. He liked to drive around, listen to music.”

“He was goofy and funny,” said Della Knight, a family friend. “I love him.”

Mason said he and Wright, along with other young Black men, often talked about how to handle interactions with the police.”He was afraid police would do something like this to him,” Mason said. “We talked about this daily. We talked about police brutality. We talk about these things in the Black community.

“Those little things will maybe haunt me,” he continued. “That maybe I didn’t talk to him about the air freshener.” Police cited an air freshener hanging from a mirror when they pulled him over.

“The reality is, Daunte is still a young man, he’s under 21. He had a huge future and it was snatched because of a huge mistake.”

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