MINNEAPOLIS – EXCLUSIVE: Struggling with loss, she moved out on her own at 18, got a job and did her best to make ends meet – until Daunte Wright showed up in her Minnesota living room with a handgun and tried to steal from her.
“Everybody feels so horrible for this man, but no one takes the time to see how horrible of a person he was,” says a Minnesota woman who police allege Wright choked and robbed at gunpoint.
At 15, a concussion ended her dreams of a soccer career.
Still in her teens, her father died. And she found out she needed brain surgery. After that, she said, she fell in with an abusive boyfriend.
By 20, she kicked him out and let a friend sleep in the living room of her one-bedroom apartment to help pay rent.
And then a high school acquaintance brought Wright over, and he allegedly shoved a pistol in her face, choked her and threatened her life in a failed attempt to steal $820 she meant to give to her landlord one day in December 2019.
“What just blows my mind is that someone can literally strangle someone to where they can’t breathe, they can’t even gasp for air, because their airways are getting crushed,” she told Fox News Digital in her first news interview. “No one should have to go through something like that and then have to accept death at 20 years old – looking into somebody’s eyes while they are holding a loaded gun to you.”
The victim, now 22, asked Fox News Digital to withhold her name, although she was comfortable speaking about the incident on camera and said it was OK to show her face.
Wright’s friend, Emajay Driver, had reached out to her over Snapchat. They decided to hang out at her apartment with her roommate.
Two young men arrived and the group drank alcohol and smoked marijuana. As the night went on, they got to talking, and she told the visitors about her abusive ex. They seemed supportive, she said.
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“We had started talking, and [Wright] said that any man who puts his hands on a woman and abuses them deserves to rot in jail,” she said.
That discussion left her feeling comfortable around the two – for a little while, she said.
When the women got tired and asked Wright and Driver to leave, they said they had to call a ride.
At one point, the duo said it came, according to their victim. But they went out and came back with food: “DoorDash or something like that,” she said.
“And then I offered them, ‘OK, do you need ketchup?’ Because they’re eating,” she said. “So I was being nice, and I was going to get them water, doing what a host would do.”
“Do you need a plate? And then I was like, ‘What about the ride?’” she recounted. “‘Oh, that person’s not giving us a ride.’”
The snow was coming down hard, she said, so she let them stay over.
They kept their distance and behaved appropriately, she noted, making no advances overnight.
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“I was like, ‘Wow, he’s respectful,’” she said. “I’m thinking all these guys are actually nice.”
That perception changed the next morning.
Her roommate handed her half of their rent money, she said. She put it with her part in her wallet – but for some reason, she said, she got the idea to hide it somewhere else.
“Something told me to put my money in my bra,” she said. “I pulled it out of my wallet, the $820, and I put it in my bra. I didn’t put it directly down. I put it to the side, under and tucked in, just because if I was trying to rob somebody, it would be a lot harder… what I thought would be the safest spot.”
But Driver might’ve seen through the doorway, she said.
Her roommate left for work, and she got ready to go to her own job as Wright and Driver lingered in her living room, she said.
Wright said he had to go outside for a second, according to the criminal complaint. That’s when the victim believes he got a gun from an unnamed accomplice. He came back in and used her bathroom – and she said she heard the water running for an unusually long amount of time.
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She said she went into the bathroom after Wright came out and noticed he’d emptied an entire bottle of hand sanitizer – and found a washcloth that reeked of rubbing alcohol. Possibly because of an urban legend that claims wiping down a gun with hand sanitizer will prevent fingerprints from being left on the surface.
He also told Driver they should “hit some stains,” according to court documents, which authorities explained is slang for robbing people.
While in the bathroom, Wright took a short selfie video that shows himself playing with a black and silver handgun. Police later found it on his phone, according to an arrest warrant, and Fox News Digital obtained it exclusively earlier this year.
When the victim went to leave for work, Wright and Driver blocked her, according to court documents and her own recollection of the morning.
“DEFENDANT WRIGHT turned around and blocked the door, preventing VICTIM from leaving,” the warrant reads.
Then he allegedly whipped out a black handgun with silver trim and pointed it at her head.
“Give me the f—ing money,” he told her, according to the warrant. “I know you have it.”
“There’s something about him, where it’s like, you look into his eyes and it’s so evil,” she said Monday.
When she refused to comply, she said he closed his fingers around her throat.
“That person was evil, and he didn’t care about me in that moment,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to me. Just go out and get a job.”
Driver allegedly stood at the door for most of the ordeal, blocking the victim’s escape.
At one point, after Wright allegedly tore up her shirt trying to fish out the cash, she said in a panic she believed the money had fallen out. She searched the floor and screamed, hoping to alert her neighbors.
When the two men left, she thought they’d taken the money. But she later found it, still tucked away in her bra.
Driver pleaded guilty to a first-degree aggravated robbery charge in connection with the case, court records show. It was his second felony conviction – but he wound up on probation.
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A woman who answered the door Tuesday at an address listed for him said he no longer lived there.
Upon Wright’s death, his charges were dismissed.
“If he wouldn’t have gotten released on bail, he would still be alive,” the robbery victim said.
On April 11, 2021, police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, pulled Wright over for expired tags – initiating a traffic stop that would end his life and force one of the officers involved to resign from duty. That officer, Kim Potter, is now on trial for manslaughter at the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.
Wright had an outstanding warrant on a firearms charge at the time, after allegedly waving a pistol in public and running from responding officers, violating the terms of his release.
Video from Potter’s bodycam shows Wright surrounded by police officers. He broke free from their grip, jumped into the driver’s seat of his car and shifted it into gear.
Potter warned him she would use her stun gun to try and stop him.
“Taser! Taser!” Potter yells in the video, although she draws her handgun and fires a single shot, which struck Wright. She has maintained that she meant to use her Taser and shot him by accident. The car crashed up the road. Wright died and a passenger, girlfriend Alayna Albrecht-Payton, was injured.
Potter originally faced a second-degree manslaughter charge, but Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison later announced an additional first-degree manslaughter charge. A conviction on the more serious offense would carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Potter’s defense attorneys have argued that the shooting was an accident.
“The State can’t prove any offense by playing the video, which shows an accident,” her defense attorney, Paul Engh, wrote in a court filing ahead of the trial. “The prosecution can’t win on Officer Potter’s shouts of ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ words meaning she was going to use her TASER, so as to not harm Mr. Wright. Nor for reasons of her enormous after-the-fact regret of what could not have been a conscious act.”
Wright’s estate is facing three posthumous lawsuits alleging belligerent criminal behavior, one from the woman and two others from young men he was accused of victimizing in other ways. One got shot in the leg during a carjacking in which Wright allegedly played a role. The other was shot in the head and is now suffering from unresponsive wakefulness syndrome – unable to walk, talk or care for himself.
The whole saga left the victim traumatized, she said, constantly having to relive that morning whenever she saw Wright’s face on TV in the break room at work or elsewhere.
She supports Black Lives Matter, she said, enough to have been marching across the bridge during the George Floyd protests last summer. But she also believes that Potter shot Wright on accident.
“It’s ironic that he died the way he could’ve killed me – having a gun pointed toward him, whether it was accidental or not accidental,” Wright’s robbery victim said. “It just it made me start to think, how many more people could he have almost killed?”
The legal team for Wright’s family, led by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, described the litigation as “character assassination.”
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As to Wright’s character, his victim said he died before he could have made something of it.
“I hate that he didn’t get that opportunity to be able to own up to his actions and deal with the consequences,” she said. “To say he was a good person, I don’t even know how you can say he was a good person.”
Fox News’ Francesca Walton contributed to this report.