“It was a lot of anxiousness, a lot of praying, crying, just waiting and the hoping that the jury would give the right verdict,” Rev. Wanda Johnson told Anderson Cooper. “Daunte’s story relates to my son’s story.”
Oscar Grant was fatally shot on New Year’s Day 2009 while lying face down on a train platform at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California. The officer who killed 22-year-old Grant said he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun, similar to the former Brooklyn Center police chief’s assessment of how Wright was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop.
The officer who shot Grant was later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months in county jail. The Grant family was upset with the “light sentencing” after the jury didn’t convict the officer of second-degree murder, Johnson said.
Though 12 years apart, Johnson said the cases had striking similarities. Both young men were loving fathers, she said.
Wright was a good and attentive father to his almost 2-year-old son, Daunte Wright Jr., said the child’s grandmother.
“His dad was a very good person,” Erica Whitaker, the grandmother of Daunte Wright’s son said earlier Friday, calling him an attentive father. “He will have pictures. He will have history. He will have family that tells him about his dad on both sides of family. But he will not have his biological father. And no one can replace his biological father.”
Oscar was also devoted to his daughter, Johnson said. So much so that he put pink flags on his car windows when his fiance found out the gender of their baby to let everyone know he was having a girl.
“Oscar loved his daughter so very much,” Johnson said, remembering being on the phone with him as he was “combing her hair and telling her the night before he was killed that they were going to Chuck E. Cheese the next day and unfortunately his life was taken and he didn’t have that opportunity.”
Both cases involved video footage of the incidents, and both resulted in police chief resignations, Johnson said.
What the cases also share, she said, is a need for a national conversation around police training in dealing with Black men.
“We can see that there is still a deep-seated fear in many police officers… stereotypes of African Americans have caused them to fear African Americans, and instead of doing their job without being fearful, they do their job fearfully and it oftentimes causes African Americans and brown young men to lose their lives,” she added.