FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims Daunte Wright Had An Arrest Warrant For A Marijuana-Related Fine

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old black man fatally shot April 11 by police in Minnesota, had a warrant out for his arrest for a marijuana-related fine.

Verdict: False

Publicly available court records show no warrant was issued against Wright for a marijuana-related fine. The outstanding warrant was issued after Wright failed to appear at a virtual hearing for another case involving charges of possession of a pistol without a permit and fleeing a peace officer, according to court records.

Fact Check:

Wright was fatally shot April 11 by then-Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter during a traffic stop, according to ABC News. He was originally pulled over for expired registration tags on his car, but police attempted to arrest him after discovering he had an outstanding warrant, the outlet reported.

A widely-shared image claims the active arrest warrant issued for Wright stemmed from a failure to pay a fine for a marijuana-related charge. (RELATED: Was Daunte Wright’s Warrant For Aggravated Robbery?)

“In October of 2019, Daunte Wright, who was a child, smoked a single joint of weed and was given a ticket for it,” reads the post in part. “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.”

Wright did plead guilty in 2019 to a petty misdemeanor for the possession or sale of a small amount of marijuana, resulting in him receiving a fine, according to court records for the case number 27-VB-19-231563. However, there is no arrest warrant related to that marijuana charge among the publicly available documents for the case in the Minnesota Court Records Online database.

Court records show the citation for Wright’s marijuana charge was “e-filed” in August 2019 and “sent to Collections” in early December 2019, before the U.S. reported its first confirmed COVID-19 cases. Wright, whom public records list as being born in October 2000, was a legal adult when the citation was “e-filed.”

The warrant for which Brooklyn Center police attempted to arrest Wright on April 11 was issued after he failed to appear for a remote April 2 hearing for two non-marijuana-related charges in another case, according to court records for the case number 27-CR-21-4400. In late June 2020, Wright was charged with possession of a pistol without a permit and fleeing a peace officer by means other than a motor vehicle, the arrest warrant and Minnesota Judicial Branch register of actions available online show.

Kyle Christopherson, a communications specialist for the Minnesota State Court Administrator’s Office, previously confirmed to Check Your Fact via email that the warrant related to those two charges was the only active warrant out on Wright at the time of the traffic stop.

Former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said Monday that he believed the police officer “had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet” and described it as an “accidental discharge.” Potter, who also resigned from the police department, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection to the shooting death of Wright, the Washington County District Attorney’s Office said in an April 14 press release.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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