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Hundreds Gathered At The Funeral Of Daunte Wright, Who Was Fatally Shot By Police

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Hundreds of people gathered in the Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis this afternoon for the funeral of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KELLY: Wright was killed April 11, when a police officer allegedly pulled out her gun instead of her Taser and shot him. The shooting happened as many in the area were already on edge during the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted this week of killing George Floyd. NPR's David Schaper is outside Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis. He joins us now. Hey, David.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Can you describe what it looks like, what the mood is there?

SCHAPER: Yeah. You know, it's somber. It's heavy with sadness. Inside the church, the service opened with the - some beautiful spiritual music. Later, while that trumpeter played, there was actually an artist painting a portrait of Daunte simultaneously. Outside, the mood was quiet and somber, too. Here are two of Daunte's friends, 24-year-old Malik Taylor and 19-year-old John Mayer Jones on their way into the church.

MALIK TAYLOR: He was a good dude. He was a - he's a very kind person. That's why we his friends. I'm just shocked right now. I really don't know how to feel about this. It's sad. Shouldn't be losing friends like this.

JOHN MAYER JONES: I'm just trying to be happy for him right now. I know he wouldn't want me to be sad, but - I am a little sad, a little mad, you know, by the way he died.

KELLY: So two of Daunte Wright's friends there. What about his family? How did they remember him during the service?

SCHAPER: You know, his his mother, Katie Wright, fought back tears as she said she never imagined being here in this sort of situation, that the role should be reversed, and Daunte should be burying her.

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KATIE WRIGHT: My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars. When he walked in the room, he lit up the room. He was a brother, a jokester. He was loved by so many. He's going to be so missed.

SCHAPER: Daunte's father, Aubrey, says he's a man of few words, doesn't talk much, and he said words really can't explain how he feels right now anyway. And two of Daunte's siblings also spoke, and they were quite emotional, too.

KELLY: And there was also a powerful eulogy from the Reverend Al Sharpton. What did he have to say?

SCHAPER: Well, you know, in that sense, it was a fiery, impassioned eulogy honoring Daunte Wright. He called him a prince, calling him the prince of Brooklyn Center. That's the suburb where he was killed. He mixed in calls for justice, including a plea for the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act that would prohibit racial profiling in law enforcement and also make it easier for - to prosecute officers for misconduct.

Then Sharpton turned his attention to the reason for the traffic stop. While police say Wright was pulled over because his license plate tags were expired, Daunte's mother says when he called her during the stop, she said the police pointed to an air freshener that was hanging from the rearview mirror. That's a traffic violation in Minnesota. And here's what Sharpton had to say about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AL SHARPTON: Well, we come today as the air fresheners for Minnesota. We're trying to get the stench of police brutality out of the atmosphere. We're trying to get the stench of racism out of the atmosphere.

SCHAPER: Sharpton said, the air here is too odorous to breathe, and we can't breathe your stinking air no more. Then turning back to Daunte, Sharpton says, the prince is now on his way to eternal rest, where he'll take a seat next to George Floyd, Philando Castile. And he listed other names of victims of police violence.

KELLY: NPR's David Schaper in Minneapolis. Thank you, David.

SCHAPER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.