Kim Potter, a 26-year member of the Brooklyn Center police force, and Chief Tim Gannon, resigned following the killing of Daunte Wright

By Jeff Truesdell
April 13, 2021 05:18 PM
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Daunte Wright; Kim Potter
Daunte Wright, at left, and former police officer Kim Potter
| Credit: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Both the police chief and the veteran officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man, resigned from their jobs Tuesday after a second night of protests over the shooting Sunday during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis.

The resignations of the officer, Kim Potter, a 26-year member of the Brooklyn Center police force, and Chief Tim Gannon, who said Monday that he believed the shooting was "accidental" after he said Potter mistook her gun for a Taser, were immediate.

"She felt that was the right thing for the community, and I couldn't agree more," Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said at a news conference on Tuesday where he announced Potter's resignation. "We did not ask her to resign. That was a decision she made."

He added: "I'm hoping this will help bring some calm to the community, although ultimately people want justice. We have to make sure justice is served, justice is done."

Minnesota protest
Protests, such as this one Monday in Portland, Oregon, invoked the name of Daunte Wright
| Credit: Nathan Howard/Getty

The deadly shooting that rallied protesters against police brutality across the country came at an especially fraught moment locally. Jurors in Minneapolis still are hearing testimony in the trial of another former police officer, Derek Chauvin, who has pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of George Floyd, another Black man, after the white officer pinned Floyd to the ground for nearly nine minutes last May with a knee to Floyd's neck. Floyd's death, caught on bystander video that went viral, sparked a summer of social justice protests.

Gannon had not defended Potter's action. But in releasing officer-worn body camera footage at a news conference Monday, he said it appeared Potter "had the intention to deploy her Taser" when she pulled a gun on Wright and fired after Wright, 20, shook free during an attempt to handcuff him and then tried to drive away.

"It appears to me that this was an accidental discharge," Gannon said, while also acknowledging that an investigation would be conducted and it was "far too early" to know whether Potter would face charges.

Minnesota protest
Hundreds rallied outside the Brooklyn Center, Minn., police department on Tuesday.
| Credit: Christopher Mark Juhn/Anadolu Agency via Getty

According to the Star TribunePotter, 48, had been on the police force since 1995. Over the years, she has served on the department's negotiation team.

The shooting occurred just before 2 p.m. Sunday.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Daunte Wright.

Wright had been pulled over and approached by Potter and another officer for what Gannon said were expired car tags. Wright then handed his ID to an officer who ran a check on it and discovered an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for Wright. That's what led to Wright's attempted arrest, Gannon said.

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According to the body-cam footage, Wright, who was by then standing by the open driver's side door, wrestled free of handcuffs as they were being applied behind his back. Wright then jumped back into his car and appeared to try to drive away.

"I know my son was scared," Wright's mother, Katie Wright, who was on the phone with her son at the time of the scuffle, told Good Morning America. "He's afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice."

As Wright struggled and tried to get back into his vehicle, the video footage shows Potter threatening to use her Taser, and shouting "Taser" several times before discharging her gun. As soon as she shoots him, she can be heard uttering "oh, sh--" as Wright's vehicle took off.

It then traveled several blocks before crashing into another car. Wright died at the scene, police said.

"The officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," Gannon said Monday, adding that Wright did not have a gun.

He explained that officers are trained to holster their firearm on their dominant side, with the Taser on the other side, and that it appeared Potter had grabbed the wrong weapon.

"After 26 years, you would think that you know which side your gun is on and what side your Taser is on," Ben Crump, an attorney working with the Wright and Floyd families, said at a news conference Tuesday in Minneapolis with members of both families. "It is unacceptable. It was intentional they stopped him, it was intentional they used the most force. They could have given him a ticket."

Another attorney for the families, Jeff Storms, said: "Don't tell us it's an accident, because it undermines the tragic loss of life that this family has experienced."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement that he was "praying for Daunte Wright's family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement."

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