Police chief, officer involved in deadly Brooklyn Center shooting have quit

A demonstrator heckles authorities who advanced into a gas station after issuing orders for crowds to disperse during a protest against the police shooting of Daunte Wright, late Monday, April 12, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A demonstrator heckles authorities who advanced into a gas station after issuing orders for crowds to disperse during a protest against the police shooting of Daunte Wright, late Monday, April 12, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Clashes between police and protesters have erupted in two days since killing.

Posted: Apr 13, 2021 7:18 AM
Updated: Apr 13, 2021 3:33 PM

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (AP) — A white police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb resigned Tuesday, as did the city's police chief — moves that the mayor said he hoped would help heal the community and lead to reconciliation after two nights of protests and unrest.

The resignations from Officer Kim Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon came two days after the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center. Potter, a 26-year veteran, had been on administrative leave following Sunday’s shooting, which happened as the Minneapolis area was already on edge over the trial of the first of four police officers in George Floyd’s death.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said he was “appreciative” that Potter submitted her resignation but that he had not asked for it nor accepted it. It wasn't immediately clear what that would mean.

Gannon has said he believed Potter mistakenly grabbed her gun when she was going for her Taser. She can be heard on her body camera video shouting “Taser! Taser!” However, protesters and Wright's family members say there's no excuse for the shooting and it shows how the justice system is tilted against Blacks, noting Wright was stopped for expired car registration and ended up dead.

Elliott said the city had been moving toward firing Potter when she resigned. He said he hoped her resignation would “bring some calm to the community,” but that he would keep working towards “full accountability under the law.”

“We have to make sure that justice is served, justice is done. Daunte Wright deserves that, his family deserves that,” Elliott said.

Activists who attended the news conference called for sweeping changes to the Brooklyn Center Police Department and sharply criticized the acting police chief, Tony Gruenig, for not yet having a plan.

Elliott said the department has about 49 police officers, none of whom live in Brooklyn Center. He said he didn't have information on racial diversity at hand but that “we have very few people of color in our department.”

The modest suburb just north of Minneapolis has seen its demographics shift dramatically in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Today, a majority of residents are Black, Asian or Latino.

Wright was stopped for having expired license plates. Police then tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.

Body camera footage released Monday shows Wright struggling with police when an officer shouts, “I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.

After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away, and the officer is heard saying, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”

Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the medical examiner.

Protests began within hours.

In her one-paragraph letter of resignation, Potter — a 26-year veteran — said, “I have loved every 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."

Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that he rejects the explanation that Potter mistook her gun for her Taser.

“I lost my son. He’s never coming back. I can’t accept that. A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right. This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can’t accept that,” he said.

Chyna Whitaker, mother of Daunte’s son, said at a news conference that she felt police “stole my son’s dad from him.”

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the police union, said in a statement Tuesday that “no conclusions should be made until the investigation is complete.”

Prosecutors in Hennepin County, where the shooting occurred, said they have referred the case to nearby Washington County -- a practice county attorneys in the Minneapolis area adopted last year in handling police deadly force cases. The Washington County Attorney’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Elliott, the mayor, called for the governor to move the case to the attorney general to prosecute.

Ben Crump, the Wright family's attorney, spoke outside the Minneapolis courthouse where a fired police officer is on trial in Floyd’s death. Crump compared Wright’s death to Floyd's, who was pinned down by police when they tried to arrest him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 at a neighborhood market last May.

Daunte Wright “was not a threat to them,” Crump said. “Was it the best decision? No. But young people don’t always make the best decisions. As his mother said, he was scared.”

Potter has experience with investigations into police shootings. She was the police union president and one of the first officers to respond after Brooklyn Center police fatally shot a man who allegedly tried to stab an officer with a knife in 2019, according to a report from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

After medics arrived, she told the two officers who shot the man to get into separate squad cars, turn off their body cameras, and not to speak to each other. She accompanied two other officers involved in the shooting while investigators interviewed them.

On Monday, hundreds of protesters gathered hours after a dusk-to-dawn curfew was announced by the governor. When protesters wouldn't disperse, police began firing gas canisters and flash-bang grenades, sending clouds wafting over the crowd and chasing some protesters away. Forty people were arrested. Thirteen arrests were made in neighboring Minneapolis, including for burglaries and curfew violations, police said.

In Portland, Oregon, police said a Monday night demonstration over the shooting turned into a riot, with some in the crowd throwing rocks and other projectiles at officers.

 

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 7367
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Hennepin1224421730
Ramsey51212875
Dakota45791452
Anoka41604438
Washington26834283
Stearns22196222
St. Louis17734303
Scott17244124
Wright16009139
Olmsted1322598
Sherburne1167187
Carver1047545
Clay814492
Rice8037107
Blue Earth749641
Crow Wing663189
Kandiyohi654283
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Benton568297
Goodhue477272
Douglas466375
Mower464832
Winona453950
Itasca435556
McLeod422559
Isanti419664
Morrison418260
Nobles407648
Beltrami394459
Steele386715
Polk383568
Becker379751
Lyon360251
Carlton345054
Freeborn341529
Pine327822
Nicollet325643
Brown305040
Mille Lacs303253
Le Sueur290922
Todd281632
Cass271328
Meeker255740
Waseca235922
Martin230531
Roseau209019
Wabasha20513
Hubbard188341
Dodge18453
Renville179743
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Houston171616
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Wadena155922
Pennington153619
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Cases: 366827

Reported Deaths: 5937
CountyCasesDeaths
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Linn20845335
Scott20025241
Black Hawk15803308
Woodbury15128228
Johnson1447483
Dubuque13368208
Dallas1117898
Pottawattamie11113168
Story1061248
Warren577088
Clinton555593
Cerro Gordo539789
Sioux514474
Webster512393
Marshall482975
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Buena Vista424540
Jasper418872
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Lee375755
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291637
Carroll285752
Bremer284360
Crawford266440
Boone264534
Benton256455
Washington254150
Dickinson248343
Mahaska230351
Jackson221742
Clay215525
Kossuth215364
Delaware209541
Tama209571
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan191232
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Hardin185243
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Wright184637
Hamilton179849
Harrison179573
Clayton169456
Butler164934
Mills162322
Madison162219
Floyd160542
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Lyon157941
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Allamakee151551
Iowa148724
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