African American man, Duante Wright, is fatally shot in the chest amidst a tragic accident.
Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn Center, Minn. after Officer Kim Potter mistakenly deployed her handgun instead of her taser.
The shooting unfolded around 2 p.m. when police officers demanded a vehicle pull over for an expired registration tag. Amidst the traffic stop, the officers determined that Mr. Wright, the driver of a white SUV had an outstanding gross misdemeanor warrant for first-degree aggravated robbery, according to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.
Upon pulling Wright over, police officers said he refused to comply with their orders after instructing him to remain outside of the vehicle. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) later identified Potter as a 26-year-old veteran officer who was part of the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
“At one point as officers were attempting to take the driver into custody, the driver re-entered the vehicle,” Gannon said in a statement Sunday.
At a press conference on Monday, the Brooklyn Center Police Department released body camera footage detailing the incident. Potter can be heard warning Wright and the officers that she will be deploying her taser.
She drew her weapon after Wright refused to listen to the officers. He made his way back to the vehicle, in an attempt to quickly drive off. After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car sped away and Potter is heard saying, “Holy s—! I shot him.”
“It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” said Gannon to ABC reporters. He continued, “This appears to me, from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.”
Gannon emphasized how disturbing the body camera footage is to watch. But upon revealing it to the public, he wanted it to provide a transparent image of what exactly happened. He said he asked BCA to investigate and present its findings, “independent of me,” to authorities and attorneys to review the case.
Potter resigned from the police department on Tuesday and was arrested Wednesday morning at the BCA in St. Paul. She was charged with second-degree manslaughter, for which she could face 10 years in prison.
The shooting sparked multiple protests in the metropolitan area of Brooklyn Center, a community already on edge from the killing of George Floyd last summer. According to a tweet from Operation Safety Net, people were “launching bottles, fireworks, bricks and other projectiles at public safety officials.” CNN crews at the scene said law enforcement fired tear gas and stun grenades at the demonstrators.
CBS stated that the Brooklyn Center City Council voted in favor Monday evening to ban its police officers from using rubber bullets and chemical irritants like tear gas for crowd control.
President Joe Biden called for “peace and calm” as authorities in Minneapolis and St. Paul issued emergencies and curfews ahead of predicted incidents. The counties of Hennepin — which includes Brooklyn Center — Anoka, Ramsey and Dakota were under curfew, which protesters ignored.
As Brooklyn Center’s first black mayor, Mike Elliot urged calm upon the city. “We recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” he said. “We recognize that this is happening at a time when our community, when all of America — indeed, all of the world — is watching our community.”
Elliot said that those working in a position like a police officer should not be making mistakes that will cost the lives of others. He added that officers should not be armed with weapons in the case of a traffic stop. The use of weapons should be decided based on the severity of the situation.
Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the Wright family, questioned how a 26-year veteran in this field of work could confuse the two weapons. Potter now awaits a court trial that will determine her time in prison.