BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — It has been only a couple of days, but the nights have been long, and sleep has been nonexistent.
Dallas Bryant, 23, keeps grabbing his phone waiting for his little brother to call, if for nothing else than just to say once more, “I love you.”
Inevitably, he admits, it won’t happen. “I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I think he’s going to hit my phone,” Bryant said. “I wish I had more time.”
Daunte Wright, 20, his younger brother, was fatally shot Sunday during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. His death sparked citywide protests and resulted in the resignations Tuesday of Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran, and Police Chief Tim Gannon.
None of that eases the pain for Bryant, who must also bear the burden of helping to lift up his loved ones in their time of need.
“Daunte was literally my best friend. We lived together for some months. I got him his first apartment. He was just your average 20-year-old,” Bryant said Tuesday after his family held a news conference in downtown Minneapolis to draw attention to the fatal shooting.
Wright’s grief-stricken aunt spoke through tears Tuesday as she remembered her “lovable” nephew, whose life was cut short.
“He was loved. He was ours,” Naisha Wright said, imploring that the officer who shot Wright be held accountable.
“My nephew was a lovable young man. His smile, oh, Lord, the most beautiful smile,” she said.
Relatives said Wright went back and forth between wanting to be a basketball player or a rapper — but above all, they said, he wanted to make his mom proud and to be a good dad to his son, who is named after him.
Family members described Wright as the cool guy, who loved boneless wings and playing pranks on his siblings. He had that sort of charisma that people gravitate toward.
“My little brother was someone who could walk into a room and not say anything but still make everyone laugh,” said Damik Bryant, 25, of Coon Rapids, a suburb of Minneapolis.
He said they spoke about an hour before Wright passed away. Wright was supposed to get the car washed and then come back home so they could go eat at Applebee’s, he said.
“That was all of our spot,” he said, adding that Wright usually ordered his favorite buffalo wings and fries.
Dallas Bryant, who lives in Brooklyn Center, said the fact that his younger brother is no longer here hasn’t sunk in yet.
“My mind was blank and numb. I didn’t want to believe it was true. I still don’t,” he said, recounting how he drove to where the shooting took place as soon as he found out about it. “My heart was racing.”
When he arrived, he said, officers were investigating and wouldn’t allow him on the scene.
Already, Dallas Bryant is thinking about good times that won’t soon be forgotten. He said Wright was good for sneaking into his room and stealing his clothes and shoes as he slept, all in the name of brotherly love. But he swears he was the better of the two when it came to playing video games, especially “NFL 2K.”
“He was trash,” Bryant joked.
Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Wright’s young son, fought through tears as she remembered the last time she saw him while she was dropping off her son with a loved one.
“I didn’t know that as going to be the last time I was going to see him,” Whitaker said during a news conference. “And I just felt like that’s so wrong, because now my son, he don’t have a dad. His dad didn’t get to see him for his second birthday or for any of his birthdays. And I’m just so messed up about it, because, like, I felt they stole my son’s dad from him.”
Mario Greer, 21, a cousin, traveled from Chicago to be with the family.
He joked while remembering the play battles they’d all have, saying he and Wright often bested the two other brothers — which Wright’s two older brothers disagreed with while laughing at the memories. The laughter quickly subsided, and the gravity of the moment kicked back in.
All three agreed on one thing: that the family would ensure that Wright’s young son will always be taken care of.