Fact Check the Left: Was Daunte Wright Stopped by Police Because of a Car Air Freshener?

Posted: Apr 19, 2021 4:00 PM
Fact Check the Left: Was Daunte Wright Stopped by Police Because of a Car Air Freshener?

Source: AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa

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The air freshener has become a symbol in the tragic shooting of Daunte Wright. Wright was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn Center outside of Minneapolis on April 11 during a traffic stop gone bad. It’s sparked waves of unrest in the area that’s already a tinder box over the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin is the officer who was involved in the death of George Floyd last year that sparked a whole summer of mayhem from leftist thugs. Now, with his trial wrapping up this week, the area has to deal with yet another officer-involved death.

Kim Potter was the police officer who shot and killed Wright after mistaking her service weapon for a taser. It’s all captured on video. The question is how? Potter is a 20-plus year veteran on the force, and she trains rookie officers. She resigned from the police department and later charged with second-degree manslaughter. She made a mistake, yes—but that’s not a get-out-of-jail card.

Yet, Wright’s mother said her son was pulled over for having an air freshener on his rearview mirror. It was one of the last conversations she had with her son. It’s becoming a rallying cry for the liberal masses, but is it true? From the outside, you’d think so, as the fences protecting the Brooklyn Center Police Department are littered with them. 

VERDICT: Not True. Wright was pulled over for having expired tags. Yes, an air freshener was also noted during the stop, but it was the tags that caused the traffic stop. Upon running his records, it was discovered that Wright had skipped out on a court date concerning a weapons charge which led to officers attempting to arrest him. You know the rest. The Associated Press and NBC News all noted the expired tags as the reason for the stop. Prior to his resignation, police chief Tim Gannon mentioned this already as well. This is not some outlier explanation. 


Daunte Wright was pulled over Sunday by police in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. Police said he was stopped for having expired car registration tags, but Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said he called her just before he was shot and said he’d been pulled over because of the air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.

Police tried to arrest Wright after realizing he was wanted on an outstanding warrant. In the ensuing scuffle, Officer Kim Potter shot him. The city’s police chief, who resigned Tuesday, said he believed Potter meant to fire her Taser, not her gun.

Potter, who also resigned, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Local news outlet KARE 11:

Before he resigned, Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon said Wright was stopped for expired tabs and the air freshener was only noticed later.

State statutes are clear about objects hanging from rear view mirrors. With a few exceptions for things like visors and navigation screens, Minnesota law says no driver may operate a motor vehicle “with any objects suspended between the driver and the windshield.”  

Ben Feist, Chief Programs Officer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, believes it’s time for the law to change.

Why it remains in the liberal echo chamber? Well, it’s the Democrat-media complex. Toss anything into that vortex and it’s staying. In Minnesota, it is the law that you cannot have anything on your rearview mirror as it could obstruct a motorist’s view:

At least five other states — California, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas and Illinois — have such laws, but the total number is unclear. The National Conference of State Legislatures does not track such legislation. The American Civil Liberties Union, which has sharply criticized such traffic stops, was unsure how many states allow them.

Minnesota’s law does not specifically mention air fresheners, but says a person shall not drive or operate a motor vehicle with “any objects suspended between the driver and the windshield,” with certain exceptions, including sun visors, rearview mirrors and electronic toll collection devices.

Also, the fact that Wright’s mother said this was the case only adds more fuel to the fire, but it’s simply not accurate. When you drive with expired tags, you’re going to get pulled over. The air freshener appears to be a secondary violation, but one that pales in comparison to the skipped court date and weapons charge. Townhall contacted the Brooklyn Center Police Department for further comment, but the commander in charge of handling media inquiries was not available. We left a voicemail.