ROCHESTER, Minn. - A situation similar to the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright happened in Rochester 19 years ago, where an officer says they mistook their gun for a taser. Since then, RPD says its made it their mission to continue improving and providing the highest level of public safety.
In 2002, the taser didn't have a holster so a lot of the time, it was in the pocket of their strong sided arm. That's no longer allowed under policy. Tasers are now located on the opposite side of the officers strong arm, meaning it's on the opposite side as their gun.
Tasers also used to be black. Rochester Police Captain, John Sherwin, explained they now look and feel completely different. He said there should never be an instance when an officer uses both a taser and a hand gun at the same time. "This has a trigger release that is totally different from the way you would draw a firearm," he said when talking about the taser. "One thing in our policy that's covered is an officer is prohibited from actually having a taser in one hand and a firearm in another hand."
Police Chief Jim Franklin said in the past two decades, there have only been two incidents in Minnesota where an officer mistakenly grabbed their gun instead of the taser. He said it's extremely rare.
But Captain Sherwin explained people aren't perfect and that's why they continue with extensive training. "We have incidents every year in Rochester where tasers are used and what would potentially be a deadly force scenario and they've successfully resolved them. So, tasers save lives," he said. "That's why we were early adopters, that's why we still carry them today and that's why we take the added responsibility of making sure our officers are trained and that our policy is cohesive in ensuring we're using tasers appropriately."
Chief Franklin said when officers respond to a call, they try their best to de-escalate the situation so they don't have to use any kind of force. That includes both a taser and handgun.