A recently unsealed civil lawsuit filed by the mother of Caleb Livingston claims Daunte Wright, whose death became a rallying cry for the anti-police violence movement following his death in April, shot Livingston in the head in May 2019, when he was 16.
Livingston was shot at a petrol station in Minneapolis and the wound left him in a vegetative state, Jennifer LeMay claims in the lawsuit, originally filed on May 4 under seal. A judge recently ruled the case could be unsealed.
A memorandum filed in the case cited by KARE 11, a Minneapolis news outlet, claims Wright and Livingston were childhood friends before having a falling out. Livingston’s “first sleep over as a boy was at Wright’s home”.
Eventually, their relationship soured to the point Livingston “beat up” Wright in front of a group of people in May 2019, KARE 11 reported on May 28.
Wright allegedly fired a “single shot” at Livingston’s head that same month, according to the allegations in the lawsuit.
Wright died after a Brooklyn Center Police (BCPD) officer appeared to mistake her gun for a Taser, shooting Wright during a traffic stop on April 14.
Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran BCPD officer, resigned after the shooting and faces charges of manslaughter. Former BCPD Chief Tim Gannon also resigned.
Wright’s death set off protests in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center, a suburb to the north, shortly before a jury convicted Chauvin of unintentional murder and manslaughter for the death of George Floyd.
A criminal complaint cited by KARE 11 “alleges that Daunte Wright jumped out of a car and fled on foot” during a call about a “man with a gun” in June 2020.
“However, officers said they found a loaded black Ruger .45 calibre handgun on the floor of the car where Wright had been sitting,” KARE 11 reported.
Wright was charged with illegal weapons possession and fleeing police related to the incident. When officers pulled Wright over for air fresheners, they discovered an arrest warrant for these charges.
Wright, who was remembered fondly at his funeral on April 22, was never criminally charged for shooting Livingston and was not tried the gun-related charges before his death in police custody.
LeMay has claimed evidence gathered from another encounter points to him being the perpetrator.
KARE 11 reported LeMay claimed at a recent court hearing: “Based on reasonable information and belief, [the .45] is being compared to the shell casings found at the scene.”
The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 from Wright’s estate due to “grievous and permanent injuries to Livingston’s body and nervous system, past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity, past and future medical expenses, past and future pain, suffering … and severe emotional distress”.
None of the allegations contained in the civil suit has been proven.
Wright’s family is being represented by lawyer Ben Crump in a civil case against BPD. Crump previously represented Floyd’s family in a lawsuit against MPD that resulted in a record-setting $27m settlement.
However, Brooklyn Center relies on an insurance trust that limits payouts to $2m for most incidents, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Crump did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment, or similar requests from other outlets.
Michael Padden, the lawyer representing Livingston’s family, told KARE 11 the lawsuit was filed “because of the statute of limitations. [Minnesota] law does not permit a case like this to be or remain sealed. Having said that, the allegations are valid.”
The lawsuit claims the investigation into the shooting of Livingston remains open.
The allegations made in the lawsuit are not likely to dampen calls for police reform, especially over the use of force, which disproportionately affects people of colour in the US.