Downt Wright was remembered by friends as a cheerful and outgoing man who loved to play basketball and supported his son Downthe Jr., who was a year old when 20-year-old Mr. Wright was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop.
“He always said he couldn’t wait to make his son proud,” said Katie Bryant, Mr. Wright’s mother, at his funeral in April. “The younger was the joy of his life, he lived for him every single day, and now he will not be able to see him.”
Mr. Wright’s death came during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis when Officer Kimberly Potter fired a single shot from her pistol, apparently mistaking it for a stun gun.
Mr. Wright worked at Taco Bell and Famous Footwear shortly before his death and was considering a career as a carpenter, as his mother stated in court. She said he also enrolled in Summit Academy vocational school about two months before he was killed. He had six siblings and was living in his parents’ house with two younger sisters when he was killed.
Just over a month after his death, a lawsuit against Mr. Wright’s family raised the question of whether Mr. Wright was involved in a violent dispute in May 2019.
The woman who filed the lawsuit alleged that Mr. Wright had shot her son – a former friend of his – in Minneapolis in the head, rendering him disabled, possibly because the man had “beaten” Mr. Wright earlier in the same month. The lawsuit contains no direct evidence of Mr Wright’s involvement in the shooting, which remains unsolved. Katie Wright called the allegations offensive and told The Star Tribune, “It’s pretty bad to deal with such allegations, whether true or not.”
The judge overseeing Ms. Potter’s trial stated that Mr. Wright’s behavior prior to his murder, including the accusation that he shot the man and any previous arrests, could only be brought to trial if shown. that Mrs. Potter knew about this at the time of the traffic stop.
Many who knew Mr. Wright admitted that he made mistakes but tried to improve his life for his son.
A friend of his, Amagey Driver, said that Mr. Wright “liked to make people laugh.” As a freshman in high school, Mr. Wright was recognized as a cool clown. “There have never been any boring moments,” said Mr. Driver.
Delivering a panegyric at the funeral, the Reverend Al Sharpton said he was told Minneapolis has not seen such a large funeral procession since Prince, a musician born and raised in Minneapolis, died in 2016.
“You thought it was just some kid with an air freshener,” Mr. Sharpton said at Mr. Wright’s funeral, referring to the air freshener hanging on his rearview mirror, which prosecutors said was one of the reasons why which the police stopped Mr. Wright’s car. Mr. Sharpton added: “He was a prince and today all of Minneapolis stopped to pay tribute to the Prince of Brooklyn Center.”