Daunte Wright 'Had a Smile That Was Worth a Million Dollars,' His Mother Says at His Funeral

Daunte Wright's funeral, after his fatal shooting by police in suburban Minneapolis, came two days after former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for killing George Floyd

Father Arbuey Wright (L) and mother Katie Wright (2L) give remarks alongside sister Diamond Wright (R) and Rev Al Sharpton during a funeral held for Daunte Wright
Daunte Wright's father Arbuey Wright, left, and mother Katie Wright, center, at his funeral April 22. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty

Hundreds of people joined with Daunte Wright's family Tuesday to mourn the 20-year-old Black man and father, recalled by his mother as "truly amazing," who was fatally shot during a traffic stop by a suburban Minneapolis police officer last week as the nation was riveted to the nearby trial of another officer, Derek Chauvin, for the murder of George Floyd.

"My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars," said Wright's mother, Katie Wright. "When you walked in the room, he lit up the room. He was a brother, a jokester, and he was loved by so many."

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She recalled the premature birth of Daunte's son, Daunte Wright Jr. "He was so happy and so proud," she said. "And he always said he couldn't wait to make his son proud. Junior was the joy of his life. And he lived for him every single day."

"And now," she said, before burying her face in her hands, "he's not going to be able to see him."

Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the suburban Brooklyn Center police force who resigned in the wake of Wright's shooting, has been charged with manslaughter in his death. The city's police chief, who also resigned, said Potter believed she was reaching for her Taser when she grabbed her gun and fired at Wright as it appeared the unarmed man was trying to flee a traffic stop.

Potter has not yet entered a plea.

George Floyd's family Funeral of Daunte Wright, Minneapolis, Minnesota
George Floyd family members at the funeral of Daunte Wright April 22 in Minneapolis. Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

The incident was captured on the officer's body-worn camera, creating a visceral video document. Video also figured prominently in the trial of Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, who was recorded on bystander video as he detained the handcuffed Floyd, a Black man, with a knee to Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

Chauvin -- who was fired after Floyd died -- was convicted Tuesday of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Two weeks of testimony in his trial were complete, with another week to go, when Wright was shot on April 11.

View of the funeral service Funeral of Daunte Wright
Funeral of Daunte Wright In Minneapolis April 22. Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

The police violence linking the two victims was emphasized by the presence at Thursday's funeral of several members of the Floyd family. Among others whose attendance was noted from the pulpit by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump were family members of Philando Castile, who was killed in 2016 in a police shooting outside of St. Paul, and the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, the Louisville, Ky., woman who died in a 2020 shooting by police entering her apartment with a no-knock warrant.

Like Floyd's death last May, which birthed demonstrations across the country against police brutality and racial injustice, Wright's shooting sent demonstrators into the streets locally for several nights, resulting in clashes with police and multiple arrests.

Funeral services were held for Daunte Wright
Funeral of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis April 22. Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Calls for justice in Wright's case were delivered Tuesday by Crump, who represents both the Floyd and Wright families, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Wright's family members adopted a more personal tone. His mother stayed awake until 3:30 a.m. before the funeral, "so nervous and scared about what I was going to stand up here and say about my son," she said. "I never imagined that I'd be standing here. The roles should completely be reversed. My son should be burying me."

Wright's sister, Monica, said: "I didn't get to tell him. I loved him before he left. He was so loved by everybody."

Rev. Al Sharpton walks with Wright's mother Katie Wright during a funeral held for Daunte Wright
Daunte Wright's mother, Katie Wright, alongside the Rev. Al Sharpton at the funeral for her son April 22 in Minneapolis. Stephen Maturen/Getty

A brother, Dallas, recalled that Daunte "was literally the life of the party. When he came in, you know, the smile, his laugh -- his laugh was really contagious."

"He was literally my best friend through thick and thin, through all the late-night conversations about him trying to better himself as a man and the man he wanted to be for Junior," he said. "We talked for hours on it, and he was doing that. And I was just so proud of the man that he was becoming, and he was gonna make an amazing father."

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