Wright’s death occurred at the same time and in the same area as the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murdering George Floyd, whose death sparked protests and riots across the country.
“The fact that this could happen even as the city of Minneapolis is going through the trial of Derek Chauvin and reliving the heart-wrenching murder of George Floyd indicates not just how important it is to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but also just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country,” Obama said in a statement.
Obama said he and former first lady Michelle Obama are grieving with Wright’s family and “empathize with the pain that Black mothers, fathers and children are feeling after yet another senseless tragedy.” He went on to say that they will “continue to … confront historical inequities and bring about nationwide changes that are so long overdue.”
Wright, 20, died after a police officer shot him during a traffic stop. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon on Monday described the shooting as “an accidental discharge.” He said the officer intended to reach for a Taser but mistakenly grabbed her service weapon and fired a single bullet.
Obama’s comments come as some on the left are calling for radical changes.
On Monday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., said Wright’s death “wasn’t an accident” because policing in the U.S. “is inherently & intentionally racist.” Tlaib appeared to then call for an end to law enforcement entirely.
“No more policing, incarceration, and militarization,” she said. “It can’t be reformed.”
Many Democrats have been calling for police reform, or in some cases defunding or abolishing police, since Floyd’s death in May 2020. Chauvin is accused of killing him by kneeling on his neck while officers tried to arrest him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.