Officer Kim Potter of the Brooklyn Center Police Department in 2007.
Bruce Bisping | Star Tribune via Getty Images
Police officer Kim Potter resigned Tuesday, two days after he fatally shot Daunte Wright, an unarmed black man who fled a traffic obstruction in a Minneapolis suburb.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon also resigned Tuesday, the day after it was revealed that Potter likely shot Wright under the mistaken belief that she was holding a taser and not her pistol.
Potter, who worked for the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years, said she liked being a cop but quit because “I believe it is in the best interests of the community, the department, and my colleagues if I resign immediately.” According to a letter posted on Twitter by several news outlets.
Her resignation came after Vice President Kamala Harris said Wright should be “still alive today” as demand for police reform increased following the recent controversial murder of a black by the Minnesota police.
Harris also said that there should be “justice and healing” for Wright’s death and that “law enforcement must be subject to the highest standards of accountability”.
Former President Barack Obama said his and Michelle Obama’s “hearts are heavy” over Wright’s death.
Obama also argued that the recent police death of a black underscores the need to redefine policing in the United States.
Wright, 20, was driving an SUV when police stopped it on Sunday afternoon because license plates had expired and an air freshener was hanging on his rearview mirror.
Police arrested Wright on a pending no-show arrest warrant in a criminal case accusing him of carrying a gun without permission and escaping from police in June.
Activist Jonathan Mason holds a Daunte Wright sign in front of the crowd of protesters who have gathered to protest the police murder of Daunte Wright on April 13, 2021 at the Brooklyn Center in Minnesota, USA.
Christopher Mark Juhn | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Video from Potter’s body camera shows Wright turning away and ducking into his car when another cop tried to handcuff him.
Potter then fired a single shot in Wright’s chest with her pistol after repeatedly desperately saying “Taser!”
Gannon told reporters on Monday, “I believe the officer intended to use his taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”
Potter’s apparent confusion about which weapon she was holding has received much criticism. Tasers are colored yellow, as opposed to a black pistol Potter held in his hand, and are usually kept on the side opposite a police officer’s dominant shooting hand.
Both of these precautions are designed to prevent a police officer from pulling out a gun when attempting to use a taser to force a suspect to comply or to avoid injuring someone else.
Prior to her resignation, Potter, who had served as president of her town’s police union, had been on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Gannon has been replaced by Commander Tony Greuning, a 19 year old veteran in the Brooklyn Center Police Department, who will serve as deputy chief.
Wright’s shots were followed by protests and looting at Brooklyn Center and nearby Minneapolis.
The location of his shooting is approximately 14 miles from where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last year after Floyd was arrested on suspicion of using a forged bill.
Prosecutors suspended their case in Chauvin’s ongoing murder trial on Tuesday morning.
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Floyd’s death sparked a wave of national protests and called for police reform.
Obama noted the coincidence of Wright’s death and Chauvin’s trial in his statement describing Floyd’s death as “murder,” although the jury has not yet passed a verdict on the case.
“The fact that this could happen while the city of Minneapolis is going through the trial of Derek Chauvin and reliving the heart-wrenching murder of George Floyd shows not only the importance of conducting a full and transparent investigation, but also how we do it we urgently need to redefine the police and public safety in this country, “said Obama.
“Michelle and I, along with the Wright family, mourn their loss,” Obama said in a statement.
“We feel drawn into the pain that black mothers, fathers and children feel after another senseless tragedy,” said Obama, who became the first black US president in 2009.
“And we will continue to work with all fair Americans to address historical inequalities and bring about national changes that are so long overdue.”
Floyd and Wright’s families, along with civil rights attorney Ben Crump, were due to hold a press conference in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
Crump said in a statement, “Daunte Wright is another young black man killed by those who have sworn to protect and serve us all – not just the whitest of us.”
“As Minneapolis and the rest of the country continue to grapple with the tragic assassination of George Floyd, we must now also mourn the loss of this young man and father. This level of lethal violence was completely avoidable and inhuman,” said Crump.
Former United States President Barack Obama speaks during a drive-in rally during the campaign for Democratic candidate Joseph Biden on October 21, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images
Minneapolis police said they arrested about 40 people Monday night for behavior ranging from curfew violations to rioting.
The looting in the city was sporadic and limited to five retail stores, police said.
Booker Hodges, deputy commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Public Security, told reporters early Tuesday, “We just want to say thank you for all of the people who have come out and peacefully exercised their first adjustment rights.”
“Unfortunately, there were those who decided not to do this. And the plans we made over the past few months have been carried out,” he said. “For months we have been saying that seditious behavior simply will not be tolerated, and unfortunately these are some of the things we have encountered tonight.”
President Joe Biden said Monday that he had not spoken to Wright’s family, “but my prayers are with the family.”
“It’s really a tragic thing that happened,” said Biden. “But I think we’ll have to wait and see what the investigation shows – and the entire investigation. You’ve all seen, I suppose, as I did, the film, which is … pretty graphic. The question is, was it an accident “Was it intended? That has yet to be determined through a full investigation.”
Biden added, “I want to make it clear again, there is absolutely no justification, none for looting, no justification for violence.”
“Peaceful protests, understandable, and the fact is we know that the anger, pain and trauma that exist in the black community in this environment are real, serious and consistent,” the president said. “But it won’t justify violence and / or looting.”