Officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, police chief have resigned in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
The police officer identified in the shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright and the police chief in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota have resigned, officials announced on Tuesday.
Kim Potter, a 26-year department veteran, fatally shot Wright during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon. Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, which classified the manner of death as a homicide. Her union announced her resignation.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot announced on Tuesday that Police Chief Tim Gannon would also be resigning.
“I have loved very minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately,” Potter’s resignation letter read.
Elliott advocated for the officer to be put on administrative leave as the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated. The mayor said the city did not ask for Potter’s resignation, which officials were alerted to just before 10 a.m. local time.
“Well, what I understand is that the officer stepping down has the effect, I think, of speaking to one of the things the community, the folks who have been out here protesting, have been calling for: that is that the officer should be relieved of her duties,” Elliot said.
“I hope this will bring some calm to the community, but I think ultimately people want justice, they want full accountability under the law. So that’s what we’re going to continue to work for.”
The mayor said later in a press conference Tuesday that he has not yet accepted Potter’s resignation after being asked whether he could still fire the officer. He did not say whether he could still fire Potter.
Elliot also declined to answer what reason Gannon offered in his resignation. The mayor did, however, ask that Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz allow Wright’s case be handled by the state’s attorney general.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput told NBC News that his office got a “voluminous amount of data to pour over” and hopes to have a decision regarding whether to charge Potter by Wednesday.
Before resigning, Gannon said he believes the officer meant to draw a Taser but “drew their handgun instead of their Taser.” A short clip of body camera footage released Monday showed Wright attempting to get back in his car as a female voice could be heard shouting “Taser!”
That same female voice could be heard saying, “Holy s— I just shot him,” as the car pulled away, police said.
Wright’s shooting occurred about 14 miles north of where George Floyd was killed last year, as the officer charged in his death currently faces trial. Tensions in the area reignited with Wright’s death, as protesters mourned the death of another Black man during a police encounter.
His mother, Katie Wright, said she could hear officers telling her son to exit the car when he called her during the stop.
“Daunte asks, ‘For what?’ The police officer said, ‘I’ll explain to you when you get out of the car.’ He said, ‘Am I in trouble?’ He said, ‘We’ll explain all of that when you step out of the car,” Kate Wright said.
The phone hung up, but minutes later she reconnected in a video call and her son’s passenger picked up, telling her that Daunte Wright had been shot.
“She pointed the phone toward the driver’s seat and my son was laying there unresponsive,” Katie Wright said. “That was the last time that I have seen my son, that was the last time I’ve heard from my son and I have had no explanation since then.”
George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, compared Wright’s slaying to the killing of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by a transit police officer in Oakland in 2009. The deadly incident was adapted into the critically acclaimed 2013 movie starring Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station.”
The officer who shot Grant also said he meant to use a Taser, and not a gun.
“There was no need to even tase him,” Floyd said. “Daunte Wright … he should still be here. It’s the time for change and that time is now. Minneapolis, you all can’t sweep this under the rug anymore.”
Community members pushed Elliot and newly-appointed acting police chief Tony Gruenig on plans to address concerns over criminalization of petty crimes, such as traffic violations, connected to the racial profiling of Black people.
“What can you do going forward to make sure that this racial profiling — because right now Brooklyn Center looks like a sundown town,” one man said. “Black people better not be trying to do driving through here after sundown.”
Another resident who described herself as a community organizer told Elliot and Gruenig that she did not need police to know her in order to “humanize” and “respect” her as a person.
“We have asked the city council for a long time that we needed a community review board,” she said. “I wanted to ask directly if that’s something that you or the new chief will be consider?”
Elliot responded that they will not just consider it, but that “absolutely” they will do it.
The mayor also said he would consider whether he would end the enforcement of traffic violations by armed officers.
“Certainly I am predisposed to doing, you know, everything we can to reduce the opportunity for officers to use deadly force in situations where they’re not necessary,” Elliot said.