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
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5:14 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Here's where things stand in Congress on police reform — and what could come next

From CNN's Jessica Dean 

Bipartisan bicameral talks continue as a core group of lawmakers tries to strike a deal on overhauling policing. While those talks have intensified over the last few days, we do not anticipate a bill being filed or a deal being struck in the immediate future.

According to Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, the next step will be formal negotiations. Up until now, Bass, GOP Sen. Tim Scott and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker have been engaged in what they’ve described as informal discussions. Bass said she hopes formal negotiations will begin in a matter of days.

“When you hear real negotiations, you will hear our leadership say negotiations are beginning and these are the negotiating partners, that has not happened yet,” Bass said today.

Bass said she planned to speak with Scott and Booker today but did not say if she is meeting with them separately or together. 

Key sticking points include:

  • Qualified immunity
  • Chokeholds
  • No knock warrants
  • Section 242 (federal statute governing police misconduct)

On qualified immunity, one of the biggest sticking points, Scott backs an idea that would allow civil litigation against police departments, rather than individual officers.

Currently individual officers are protected against lawsuits, even if it is later determined that the officer violated the Constitution, unless it can be clearly established in prior cases that the conduct is recurring and unconstitutional. 

Bass told CNN on Wednesday she believes officers and departments need to be held accountable.

Still Scott maintains they’re not that far apart on the issue, telling CNN today, “I think there are a number of Democrats that have proposals that actually put the burden on the employer, not the employee…I’ve spoken to many senators, who, on the left, who are very amenable and to that. I think we’ll bridge that gap.”

On the issue of Section 242, Scott has said it’s "off the table" while Bass maintains it must be addressed. Justice Department policy maintains that under Section 242 of the federal criminal code, in order to prosecute a law enforcement officer acting in an official capacity, "prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a law enforcement officer acted willfully to deprive an individual of a federally protected right. "

Civil rights groups maintain that Section 242 makes meeting the burden of proof almost impossible. 

At this point these talks are pretty much exclusively happening on the Hill. Bass said the White House is being kept informed as things move forward. White House officials from the Office of Legislative Affairs, Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice and Office of Public Engagement director Cedric Richmond are keeping track of developments.

The Biden administration has expressed its support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which passed the House in March with no Republican support. White House press secretary Jen Psaki has acknowledged there will likely need to be changes made to that bill in order to pass the Senate.

Bottom line: There is real movement on the issue of police reform, but it’s going to take some time. Still, all parties agree this time feels different than last summer when these efforts failed.

  

3:58 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Daunte Wright's parents presented with proclamation by Minnesota governor

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Daunte Wright's parents were presented with a flag and a proclamation during their son's funeral service Thursday.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz read a proclamation announcing a moment of silence for 12 p.m. local on Thursday and handed it to the family.

"While nothing will bring Daunte Wright back to his loved ones, we must continue to enact real meaningful change at the local, state, and national levels to fight systemic racism, so that every single person in Minnesota, Black, Indigenous, Brown, and White, can be safe and thrive," Walz said as he read the proclamation. 

US Rep. Ilhan Omar also presented Daunte Wright's parents with a flag that was flown for him over the US Capitol.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke during the service about the need to pass the George Floyd Policing Act in light of the death of Wright at the hands of police. 

"We can do more, we must do more, because for too long changes come, inch by inch, when we should be miles ahead," she said. "It is time for Washington DC to move forward on police reform and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We must make policing more accountable. We have to change police training and standards, including banning chokehold." 

Klobuchar added: "We won't rest until justice – true justice – is done."

3:45 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Klobuchar: "We cannot confuse accountability for justice"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

KARE/Pool
KARE/Pool

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar addressed the historic nature of Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict, but noted that it should not be confused for justice during a memorial service for Daunte Wright.

"While this was a historic moment for our country, we cannot confuse accountability for  justice. Because true justice is not done as long as having expired tags means losing your life during a traffic stop. True justice is not done as long as a chokehold and knee on the neck or a no-knock warrant is considered legitimate policing. True justice is not done as long as Black Americans are killed by law enforcement at more than twice the rate of White Americans. And to use your words, Katie, true justice is not done as long as your son is not coming home for dinner," the Democratic lawmaker said.

Klobuchar called for immediate police reform and said that the burden of change shouldn't just fall on the shoulders of bystanders like Darnella Frazier, the teen who filmed George Floyd's final moments, or those who witnessed the shooting of Wright.

"It is on us as leaders in our communities, in our neighborhoods, as lawmakers. We can do more. We must do more. Because for too long change has come inch by inch when we should be miles ahead. It is time for Washington, DC, to move forward on police reform and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We must make policing more accountable," she said.

Klobuchar continued, "As we remember Daunte's life and grieve his death, we must repair what is broken in this country and make sure class clowns and basketball fans, doting fathers and caring sons remain with us in body, as Daunte now does in spirit, Mrs. Wright. We won't rest until justice, true justice, is done. That's my proclamation to you."

3:20 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Rev. Sharpton eulogizes Daunte Wright, honoring him as "the prince of Brooklyn Center"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

Rev. Al Sharpton today delivered a powerful eulogy for Daunte Wright in Minneapolis, Minnesota, drawing a direct line between the killing of the young man and the verdict in Derek Chauvin trial.

"He was a prince," said Sharpton of Wright, who was shot to death by police about ten miles away from where the Chauvin trial was taking place. "All of Minneapolis has stopped today to honor the prince of Brooklyn Center."

Sharpton went on say protests must and would continue until justice is achieved.

"The absence of justice is the absence of peace," he said. "There is a confusion in this country between peace and quiet. Some of us are told to 'shut up and just be quiet'... but peace is the presence of justice."

"You cant tell us to shut up and suffer," said Sharpton. "We must speak up when there is an injustice."

Sharpton also drew a direct line from the killing of Wright and George Floyd, saying their legacies would bring about national change. 

"In the name of Daunte, we are going to pass the "George Floyd Policing Act" as federal law,” he said. "We are going to make it against he law across this country to keep having funerals for our young princes...God has turned the page in the state of Minnesota and we’re never going back no more.” 

Sharpton said change had already begun, noting that a number of police had testified against their former colleague, Chauvin. 

"That's why we know change is here," he said. "When you see the blue wall of silence tumble in a courtroom in Minneapolis, when policemen understand they are committed to the oath rather than to their colleague, that's when we know a breakthrough is coming."

3:01 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Wright family attorney: "It's too often that traffic stops end up as deadly sentences"

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

Ben Crump, an attorney for Daunte Wright's family, said they deserve justice for the loss of their loved one.

Crump, who spoke at Wright's funeral today, also called for justice for Wright's son Daunte Jr.

"It's too often that traffic stops end up as deadly sentences," Crump said, after leading a chant of "Daunte Wright's life mattered!" among the guests and family.

Crump said Wright's funeral service was to "celebrate his life and define his legacy."

He also acknowledged several families of other victims of police violence who attended Wright's funeral today.

Wright was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 11.

Crump acknowledged the families of George Floyd and Philando Castile, having them stand up during the service. He also acknowledged Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police during a no-knock warrant.

The family of Jamar Clark, who was killed by two Minneapolis police officers in 2015, was also in attendance.

During the service, trumpeter Keyon Harrold played a song. Harrold's son was accused by a woman of stealing her phone in a New York hotel last December.

4:33 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

Daunte Wright's mother: "He was loved by so many. He's going to be so missed"

KARE/Pool
KARE/Pool

Daunte Wright's mother, Katie Wright, said her late son "had a smile that was worth a million dollars" during his funeral today in Minneapolis.

"My son should be burying me," Katie Wright said, overcome with tears. "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."

Wright was only 20 when he was shot and killed by a White Minnesota police officer.

Watch:

2:15 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

George Floyd's family attends Daunte Wright's funeral

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

Members of George Floyd's family are at today's funeral for Daunte Wright.

Attorney Ben Crump — who represents both families — acknowledged the Floyd family while speaking at the funeral.

"This time last year, they were being introduced to the world because they became a part of a fraternity that no family wants to be a part of," Crump said, referencing Floyd's May 2020 murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Wright's death on April 11 in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center happened about 10 miles from where the trial in Floyd's death was held this month.

1:43 p.m. ET, April 22, 2021

NOW: Daunte Wright remembered at funeral

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

The funeral for Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man killed by a white Minnesota police officer, is underway.

The Rev. Al Sharpton — who eulogized George Floyd last year — is expected to speak in today's service at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis.

Relatives of Floyd and Oscar Grant, Black men also killed in police encounters, are expected to attend the funeral, a family attorney and Wright's aunt said hours before the service.

Wright's death on April 11 in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center happened about 10 miles from where the trial in Floyd's death was held this month. Wright's killing sparked nights of protests in Brooklyn Center and reignited national conversations about policing and the use of force.

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.