Fact Check: Daunte Wright's Outstanding Arrest Warrant Was NOT About Weed

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Daunte Wright's Outstanding Arrest Warrant Was NOT About Weed Weapons Charge

Was Daunte Wright's outstanding arrest warrant about weed? No, that's not true: He was wanted on a warrant related to a gross misdemeanor weapons charge. In a separate case, court documents show Wright pleaded to a marijuana charge. By the time he was fatally shot by an officer during an April 11, 2021, traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, there was an outstanding fine balance associated with that case but no warrant.

Police say they stopped Wright because of expired tags and then found out an arrest warrant had been issued for Wright on April 2, 2021, for failing to appear at a hearing in a case about carrying a pistol without a permit and fleeing a peace officer.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published by "The Other 98%" on April 13, 2021. It read:

Let me tell you what you are looking at. In October of 2019, Daunte Wright, who was a child, smoked a single joint of weed and was given a ticket for it. It was a petty misdemeanor. HE PLEAD GUILTY. They then charged him $75 + 81 in fees. And put him on a payment plan. It then went to collections in the middle of the damn pandemic. And so they opened a WARRANT FOR HIS ARREST. Over a joint. He smoked as a child. And pleaded guilty to. In a city that claims it decriminalized weed. So if anybody tells you 'he had warrants' this is it.

This is what the post looked like on April 14, 2021:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Apr 14 19:31:14 2021 UTC)

The post was an apparent reference to a case that was filed in August 2019. Details on that case, number 27-VB-19-231563, can be seen by searching here, under petty case records.

According to court documents, Wright was charged with possession or sale of a small amount of marijuana. Convicted, he was ordered to pay fees and a fine. On December 4, 2019, his case was sent to collections, the documents show, well before what might reasonably be considered "in the middle of the damn pandemic." They also show that Wright was born on October 27, 2000, making him an adult in the eyes of the law.

Although his case had been sent to collections, there was no evidence of any outstanding warrants related to the case as of April 11, 2021, when Wright was pulled over and killed. In fact, there was never any warrant on the case at all.

There was evidence, however, of an outstanding warrant in a different case. Court records show an arrest warrant was issued for Wright on April 2, 2021, for failing to appear at a hearing in a case for carrying a pistol without a permit and fleeing a peace officer by a means other than a motor vehicle.

Details on that case, number 27-CR-21-4400, can be seen by searching here, and a copy of the warrant can be seen here.

According to the probable cause statement, Minneapolis police officers responded to a call of a person with a gun on June 30, 2020. They arrived and found that Wright matched the caller's description of the suspect. He took off running and managed to elude officers, who were able to identify Wright because of prior interactions, the statement said. A loaded handgun was found where he had been sitting. Someone else said the gun belonged to Wright, who did not have a permit to carry a firearm.

The officers did not know Wright had an outstanding warrant when they pulled him over in April, 2021. During a press conference on April 12, 2021, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said:

From what I've understood from the public safety briefing, there was an expired registration on the vehicle. That means the tags were expired. Upon arrival, when the officer made contact, I think at that time when he walked up to the car, he discovered that there was a hanging item from the rear-view mirror. So there was a contact that the officer went up there initially for, attained his ID or his drivers name, and he walked back to his car and at that time he ran his name and he found out that he had a warrant. That's why they removed him from the car and they were making a custodial arrest.

When asked for details on the warrant, Gannon said he had very little information, except that it was a "gross misdemeanor warrant." Additional details were provided in a statement, dated April 14, 2021, from the Washington County Attorney's Office, which said that Wright had a warrant for a "gross misdemeanor weapons charge."

Gannon has since stepped down as chief, as has Kimberly Potter, the Brooklyn Center police officer who shot Wright. Officials have said she seemingly mistook her gun for a Taser.

Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 20-year-old Wright.


  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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