Minneapolis police fatally shoot man during traffic stop, igniting protests

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Protests erupted in Minneapolis on Wednesday night after police shot and killed a man during a traffic stop on the city's south side, authorities said.

According to Minneapolis police, the exchange of gunfire occurred after officers pulled over the man suspected of a felony at a gas station around 6:15 p.m. The driver, who was not immediately identified, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police killing was the first in the city since the May 25 death of George Floyd, which ignited nationwide unrest, riots, and protests earlier this year. Floyd died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Wednesday's shooting occurred about a mile away from where Floyd died. 

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The scene in Minneapolis after a man was shot and killed by police, Dec. 30, 2020. (Associated Press)

In a news conference on Wednesday, police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the suspect fired first, and that "police officers then exchanged gunfire," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. 

Authorities said no officers were wounded during the shooting, and a woman who was in the vehicle with the suspect was also unharmed, reports said. A bullet hole was seen in a squad car at the scene.

After the shooting, upwards of 100 protesters gathered in the area, many shouting obscenities at police, throwing snowballs at officers and demanding more information about the shooting. 

Arradondo implored residents to remain peaceful and said he would move quickly to release the bodycam footage — potentially on Thursday.

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"As chief, I recognize the trauma that our city has been under, and we want to do everything we can to maintain the peace," Arradondo said, according to the paper. "Our city has gone through too much. We need to keep our officers safe, we need to keep our community safe, and I tell you, we need to preserve that crime scene."

"Please allow me, the (state) investigators, allow us the time, let us get the evidence, get the facts, so we can process this," he continued.

The shooting comes amid calls to defund the police department following the death of Floyd. Earlier this month, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a budget that will shift about $8 million from the police department toward violence prevention and mental health programs.

It also comes amid a rise in violent crime this year in the city.

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Police spokesman John Elder said the officers involved were members of the Community Response Team (CRT), which focuses on high-crime areas. He added that the officers involved have all been isolated and were waiting to be interviewed, according to the Star Tribune. 

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