Brooklyn Center police chief: 'Once we got pelted, we responded in kind'

The police presence will be enhanced Monday and beyond.
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Tim Gannon

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon

Members of the local, county and state police forces will be assisted by the Minnesota National Guard on Monday and going forward in the event that civil unrest escalates the way it did Sunday night after 20-year-old Daunte Wright was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center. 

Though unlike Sunday night's unrest that morphed into looting at numerous stores at the Shingle Creek Crossing shopping center, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon says such behaviors will not be tolerated. 

Speaking Monday at a news conference to add more details – including body camera video – from Wright's deadly encounter with police, Gannon said he was "front and center" at both the protest outside the city's police department and at what he called a "riot" at the shopping hub.  

"I was front and center at the protest, at the riot," Gannon said, then interrupted by members of the community who asked him to avoid calling the looting a riot. "It was," he said adamantly, then warned that any violent behavior will be met with force. 

The chief said some protesters threw concrete blocks and frozen cans at officers, so he instructed all the lights at the police department to be turned off to make it harder for protesters to target officers. 

Gannon also said protesters had plenty of time to leave the area to avoid physical confrontation with law enforcement. Gannon was behind the dispersal order that was issued around 10 p.m. It gave protesters 10 minutes to clear the area. 

"Plenty of time was given to disperse," said Gannon, taking responsibility for the decision to use tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters who refused to leave.

"Once we got pelted, we responded in kind," he said, noting that a deputy with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office was taken to the hospital after being struck in the head by a brick. 

Police killing of Daunte Wright: Here's what we know so far

Gallery: Civil unrest leads to property damage at Brooklyn Center stores

Asked if he would've avoided giving officers the go-ahead to use tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets if he had the chance to make the decision again, Gannon said "absolutely not." 

"If we hadn't moved people on, I don't know what would've happened and I don't know what would've reformed," he said, adding that he promotes peaceful protest but warned that any violence going forward will be met with a response. 

"We are going to have our officers lined up to protect this building, to protect this city the best we can," Gannon said. 

Wright was fatally shot by a female officer who was described by Gannon as a "very senior officer." Gannon suggested that the officer grabbed her gun instead of her Taser and that Wright may have been the victim of an "accidental discharge." 

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