Daunte Wright's funeral and the latest on the push for police reform

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 5:20 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021
6 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:36 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Top Senate Democrat hopeful deal will be reached on policing reform

From CNN's Ali Zaslav and Lauren Fox

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference on April 20.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference on April 20. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN this morning that he’s hopeful a deal can be reached on policing reform in the next several weeks, and he’s instructed Democratic Sen. Cory Booker to “see what he can get done.” 

Asked if qualified immunity was the last major sticking point, he said to ask Sen. Booker about the details. 

Booker has been working on a compromise deal with GOP Sen. Rick Scott that may allow for police departments to be sued in civil trials for excessive use of force, while still protecting individual officers. 

11:18 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Columbus school district mourns the death of newly enrolled student Ma'Khia Bryant

From CNN's Anna Sturla

Columbus City Schools say they are mourning the teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer on Tuesday, its superintendent said in a statement Wednesday.

Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, had been "newly enrolled" at Independence High School as of February, according to spokesperson Jacqueline Bryant, no relation.

"My heart is broken, their families’ hearts are broken, and our community's hearts are broken at the reality of these two promising young lives being taken away," superintendent Talisa Dixon said.

The Columbus Board of Education also issued a statement. 

Ma'Khia Bryant's death occurred just minutes before the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial, which the school board said "certainly does not demonstrate that the system has been corrected or that there is true justice, as evidenced by the events that unfolded in our city that same day."

They say while they are committed to ending racism in their school districts, “to really understand and begin to address the historic nature of systemic racism and bias in Columbus, we must come together, call it out, and create a holistic plan of action as a city.”

Spokesperson Bryant said that the district would have a dedicated team at the girl's school this week and next, "to support students and staff who are experiencing sadness or anxiety at this tragic news and helping them understand their emotions better throughout the days ahead."

11:58 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

One of only two Black-owned funeral homes in Minnesota has shared the grief in burying Floyd and now Wright

From CNN's Adrienne Broaddus

For three decades, Tracy Wesley has met people on life's most difficult days.

He runs Estes Funeral Chapel in Minneapolis — one of only two Black-owned funeral homes in Minnesota. And he's handled some of the Twin Cities' most high-profile deaths: George Floyd, Jamar Clark and now Daunte Wright.

In his line of work, Wesley says he is not bothered by people who naturally pass or transition but is troubled by police killings. 

"Not only have you lost, you're suffering a loss that was unnecessary," he said. "There needs to be change because the system is racist," he said. "I am afraid it (police killings) is never going to go away." 

Days before George Floyd's family celebrated a guilty verdict on all three charges for the murder of their loved one, Wesley helped Daunte Wright's family arrange their son's funeral. 

Wesley said the Wright family selected a red urn to store Daunte Wright's ashes. During the process, Wesley learned red was one of Daunte Wright's favorite colors.

Wright will be cremated following his funeral, Wesley said. For the Thursday funeral service, the family is renting a white casket to hold the body of the 20-year-old.

"White always means angelic," Wesley said, noting red and white roses will drape the casket. "The red and white roses, they just kind of like that."

Wright was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop about 15 miles from the Cup Foods where George Floyd was killed. The two men, killed in police custody nearly a year apart, became focal points for the national conversation around police accountability and racial bias in the US.

The manner in which each was killed differed. An officer knelt on a handcuffed Floyd's neck for more than 9 minutes after Floyd exited his vehicle. Wright was stopped for an expired tag, though authorities later learned he had an outstanding gross misdemeanor warrant, and was fatally shot in his vehicle as an officer yelled out "Taser!"

But their similarities drew particular heartbreak from protesters calling for justice: Floyd called out for his mother in his last moments and Wright called his mother as he was pulled over. They both were fathers to young children and both of their deaths were captured on video.

"It's a little bit of a different state of mind that you have to be in to help. On one hand, you're upset being African American in this country," Wesley said. "And on the other hand, being a professional, you have to do all that you can and focus to help our families."

Wesley has handled killings that people outside the state of Minnesota know little about. They are among the names at a symbolic cemetery called "Say Their Names," blocks from the site where Floyd died.

See Wesley's story:

11:01 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Leaders and activists are now urging the Senate to pass a policing bill. Here's what it would do.

From CNN's Clare Foran

Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the murder of George Floyd, but now there's a new call for action: Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

Authored by Rep. Karen Bass of California, the act has already passed the US House of Representatives. It now needs a debate and a vote in the US Senate.

According to the legislation's fact sheet, the bill would "save lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants" and would mandate "deadly force be used only as a last resort."

In the wake of the verdict, many of Floyd's family members, leaders and activists and President Biden say that now is the time to continue to push that legislation forward. Supporters of the bill say it would improve law enforcement accountability and work to root out racial bias in policing.

"We can't stop here," President Biden said on Tuesday, noting that "in order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen or occur again."

Here's what the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would do:

  1. Ban chokeholds. While many police agencies say they don't train their officers to use chokeholds, they are still used. The legal standard for the use of chokeholds is vague, making it difficult to prosecute officers who abuse this use of force
  2. Ban no-knock warrants. The no-knock warrant allows officers to break into homes without warning.
  3. Create a duty to intervene. When police officers see another officer using excessive force, the witnessing officers would be required to intervene. 
  4. Create a public registry. The law establishes a national police misconduct registry available to the public. This would stop officers from evading consequences for their actions by moving to another jurisdiction.
  5. End qualified immunity: Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that protects government officials from being held personally liable for violations – for example, when police use excessive force. Ending qualified immunity would mean that, if a police officer breaks the law, that officer would be held accountable

Democrats now control the Senate, which has a 50-50 partisan split with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie breaker. But most legislation in that chamber still requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and it's not clear there would be enough Republican support to get the legislation across the finish line in the Senate.

10:46 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

There will be a moment of silence for Daunte Wright across Minnesota when his funeral begins

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a proclamation calling for a two-minute silence to honor Daunte Wright at 1 p.m. ET.  

The silence will mark the start Wright’s funeral. Wright was shot and killed by a police officer on April 11 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. 

“We know that this tragedy is connected to the deep, systemic racism in our society that Black people in Minnesota and across the country face every single day,” the proclamation issued by Walz reads. “While nothing can bring Daunte Wright back to his loved ones, we must continue to work to enact real, meaningful change at the local, state, and national levels to fight systemic racism so that every person in Minnesota – Black, Indigenous, Brown, or White – can be safe and thrive.” 

“We must be steadfast in our accountability to change from the top to the bottom, and not rest until we create a different future for Daunte Wright’s son, and every other child like him,” it added. 

“Daunte Wright was beloved by his family, neighbors, and community, and had his entire young life ahead of him. We mourn the loss of Daunte Wright, and as a state we offer our deepest condolences to the Wright family.”  

10:25 a.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Daunte Wright will be remembered at a funeral this afternoon

There will be a funeral for Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man killed by a white Minnesota police officer, this afternoon in Minneapolis.

The Rev. Al Sharpton — who eulogized George Floyd last year — is expected to give the eulogy.

Wright's funeral is scheduled to start noon local (1 p.m. ET) at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis.

Former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter, was arrested and charged last week with second-degree manslaughter in Wright's death.