White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration is “incredibly saddened” by the death of Daunte Wright at the hands of law enforcement at the weekend, confirming that Joe Biden had been briefed on the incident.
Mr Biden later personally addressed the police shooting in Minnesota of Mr Wright, a Black man, in comments at the start of an unrelated event on Monday afternoon.
At a lunchtime press conference in Minnesota, authorities said that the shooting had been an accident and that the officer had meant to use her taser and not her firearm.
Speaking at the White House shortly after the police briefing, Mr Biden described the incident as “tragic” and said that he had watched the “fairly graphic” footage released by police.
“Question is: Was it an accident or intentional? That remains to be determined,” he said.
“In the meantime, I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification — none — for looting. No justification for violence. Peaceful protest? Understandable.”
The president said that he is yet to speak with Mr Wright’s family. Mr Biden has spoken with Minnesota governor Tim Walz and Mike Elliott, the mayor of the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center where the incident took place.
Mr Elliott tweeted that he appreciated the president reaching out to offer his administration’s support.
Earlier, Ms Psaki told reporters that the protests in Minnesota over the police killing of Mr Wright are “a reminder of the pain, the anger, the trauma, the exhaustion, that many communities across the country have felt as we see these incidents continue to occur”.
Asked about the status of a campaign promise of a police commission, Ms Psaki said that the administration has been in very close contact for several months with civil rights activists and the law enforcement community about what would be most effective moving forward.
The best path forward in the eyes of the White House is to pass the George Floyd Policing Act that has a great deal of the policy changes and necessary reforms that the administration would like to see in place.
Rather than pursuing a commission, the focus will be on moving legislation forward.
Asked whether this would rise on the White House’s burgeoning list of priorities, Ms Psaki said that the president will certainly use the power of the presidency to move the bill forward.
Protesters have taken to the streets to demand justice for Mr Wright after the 20-year-old was shot dead by police, ratcheting up tensions in a city already on a knife-edge amid the trial of the officer charged with the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
The mother of Daunte Wright told reporters her son was shot by officers from the Brooklyn Center Police Department after he was pulled over in a traffic stop on Sunday afternoon.
His mother said the young man had called her on her cell phone when he was pulled over, apparently after police objected to the air fresheners in his vehicle, and got out of his car, which the family had given him just two weeks ago.
Police claimed the young man at that point got back in his car, when one officer fired at him. The 20-year-old was struck, and his vehicle travelled for several more blocks before hitting another car.
Mr Wright was pronounced dead at the scene, despite efforts by emergency crews to save him.