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KARE 11 Investigates: Lawsuit claims Daunte Wright shot a teenager in the head

Two years before he was shot and killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer, a lawsuit claims there’s evidence Daunte Wright shot a 16-year-old boy.
Credit: Wright family photo
Daunte Wright

The mother of a teenage boy who was shot in the head and critically injured in 2019 has filed a civil lawsuit claiming the shooter was Daunte Wright – the young man whose name made national headlines last month when he was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center.

Wright’s death sparked days of protests over racial profiling and police use of force.

A newly filed lawsuit claims that Wright shot 16-year-old Caleb Livingston in the head at a Minneapolis gas station on May 14, 2019, leaving him with permanent physical and mental disabilities.

Livingston’s mother is seeking damages from Wright’s estate to help pay for her son’s continuing care.

Although Wright was not criminally charged before his death in connection with Livingston’s shooting, the civil court filings in the case allege that “evidence generated to date reveals that the perpetrator of this crime was Daunte Wright.”

Livingston’s mother also alleges in court documents that Wright was a gang member with a lengthy criminal history.

Gas station shooting

Daunte Wright and Caleb Livingston had been childhood friends, according to a memorandum filed in the lawsuit. In fact, it says Caleb’s “first sleep over as a boy was at Wright’s home.”

As time went on, though, there apparently was a falling out. Court filings say Livingston “beat up” Wright in front of others. That may have been a motive for what the lawsuit claims happened next.

Shortly after 9 o’clock on the night of May 14, 2019, the lawsuit says Livingston was at a gas station/convenience store in the 1800 block of Lowry Avenue in North Minneapolis. It claims Wright was there, too.

It alleges Wright “brandished, pointed, and discharged a firearm” at Livingston, with one bullet striking him in the head.

Weapon found?

Caleb Livingston survived – but with severe and permanent injuries.

At the time, no one was charged in the shooting. But attorneys for Livingston’s mother point to new evidence they say links Wright to the crime.

One year later, in June 2020, Minneapolis police received a report about a man with gun. When they arrived, a criminal complaint alleges that Daunte Wright jumped out of a car and fled on foot. However, officers said they found a loaded black Ruger .45 caliber handgun on the floor of the car where Wright had been sitting.

Wright was charged with fleeing police and carrying a handgun without a permit.

In a recent filing, an attorney for Livingston’s mother told the court “Based on reasonable information and belief, this gun is being compared to the shell casings found at the scene” of the 2019 gas station shooting.

The filing says the Minneapolis Police Department has not released details because their investigation is “active and ongoing.”

Case originally sealed

Attorney Michael Padden filed the case in Hennepin County court on May 4, but originally asked that the case be kept confidential.

He cited the widespread publicity and protests surrounding Wright’s death which occurred during the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

He also argued that making the case public could jeopardize the police investigation and interfere with possible negotiations with lawyers for Wright’s family to settle the case.

A judge recently ruled the court files could be released.

When reached by KARE 11, Padden released this statement: “We had to commence the lawsuit because of the statute of limitations. MN law does not permit a case like this to be or remain sealed. Having said that, the allegations are valid.”

Wright’s estate has not filed a formal response to the lawsuit.

KARE 11 attempted to reach Wright family attorney Ben Crump, but has not heard back.

Brooklyn Center traffic stop

When Brooklyn Center police stopped Wright’s car for expired license plate tabs on April 11, officers discovered he had an outstanding arrest warrant for missing a court appearance in the illegal weapons possession case and fleeing police in June 2020.

He was also awaiting trial on felony robbery charges – accused of trying to rob a woman at gunpoint in December 2019.

Bodycam video released by the department showed Wright attempting to escape as officers tried unsuccessfully to handcuff him.

Officer Kim Potter can be heard shouting “Taser, taser,” but fired her gun instead. She resigned and has been charged with Second Degree Manslaughter. That prosecution is now being handled by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

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