Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff on the Deadly Shooting of Daunte Wright

April 13 2021

Today, Center for Policing Equity CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff released the following statement on the deadly shooting of Daunte Wright:

In no U.S. jurisdiction is a traffic violation punishable by death. Yet the enforcement of traffic laws by armed officers continues to result in summary executions, particularly of young Black men. 

This weekend in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright — a 20-year-old, unarmed Black man — after stopping him for a minor traffic offense. He was killed with his girlfriend in the car immediately after calling his family. No amount of witnesses, including the officers’ activated body cameras, were enough to save his life.

Many common public safety issues — including but not limited to traffic stops, mental health crises, or school discipline — are made far riskier by the presence of armed police officers. The officer who shot Mr. Wright claims she intended to fire her taser, an enraging illustration of what happens when disproportionate force is treated as an acceptable tool of first resort.

Any outstanding warrant discovered after the stop is irrelevant. Armed police should not be our policy response to minor issues such as an air freshener hanging from a rearview mirror or expired tags. Daunte Wright, like so many Black men before him, should be alive today.  

Our thoughts are with his family, the Brooklyn Center community, and all those traumatized by this unending stream of killings. With unrest likely to stretch into a third night, we stand with those who have found voice in protest and in organizing to prevent the next killing. As localities around the country rethink who and what keeps us safe, removing force from situations where it does more to harm than to protect is a first step that could save lives.


About Center for Policing Equity: As a research and action organization, Center for Policing Equity (CPE) produces analyses identifying and reducing the causes of racial disparities in public safety. Using data-driven approaches to social justice, we use science to create levers for social, cultural, and policy change. Center for Policing Equity also holds a 501(c)3 status.