The Shooting of Daunte Wright

Rilee Bone and Milasia Khanthavixay

On April 11, 2021, 20 year old Daunte Wright was shot and killed after being pulled over in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles from where the Derek Chauvin trial was taking place.

 

Daunte Wright was a young black man and father to a one year old little boy. On April 11, Wright was pulled over while driving with his girlfriend in the new car his mom had given him. An officer approached his window, explaining he was pulled over because the registration sticker on his license plate was expired. 

 

During this traffic stop, officers ran Wright’s name through a database, where they discovered he had a warrant out for his arrest after failing to attend court because of charges he had received in June. Because of this, police attempted to arrest Daunte Wright.

 

Body cam footage from an officer at the traffic stop showed two male officers and a female officer. Police informed Wright that he was under arrest, so he stepped out of his car and proceeded to put his hands behind his back.

 

Kim Potter, the female officer at the traffic stop, approached the officers attempting to arrest Wright. She was seen grabbing an unknown small object with her right hand and then placing it in her left hand. Shortly after this, Wright, unarmed, began trying to avoid arrest and stepped back into his car. Potter, who had originally had her gun on her right side and taser on her left, yelled, “I’ll tase you! Taser, taser, taser!” Potter reached with her right hand to her right side to pull out her taser. Instead, Potter pulled out a gun and fired a single shot at Wright. She said, “I just shot him.” After the body camera footage was released, Chief Tim Gannon stated “The officer had their intention to deploy the Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet”.

 

Potter’s gun was black, metal, and nearly a pound heavier than her taser. Her taser was plastic and yellow and neon colored. Potter pulled out her gun and held it for seven or more seconds before shooting Daunte Wright in the chest. After being shot, Wright drove off, but only made it 470 feet before crashing his car and being pronounced dead.

 

Monday, April 12, the Brooklyn Center City Council recommended that Officer Kim Potter and Chief of Police Tim Gannon resign. The following day on Tuesday, April 13, Potter and Gannon turned in their badges less than 48 hours after Daunte Wright was fatally shot. According to FoxNews, Gannon made the body camera video public less than 24 hours after the incident. 

 

“As I watched the video and listen to the officer’s commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said. “This appears to me from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.” Gannon said at a briefing Monday that Potter mistook her gun for a Taser — even though they’re worn on opposite sides of an officer’s utility belt and vary greatly in weight.

 

Potter stated in her email, “I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately,” according to a letter posted on Twitter by multiple news outlets. She had served 26 years in the department. 

 

That following day, April 14, at around 11:30 a.m Kim Potter was arrested. Officials said it happened at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul. Potter faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for second-degree manslaughter. She was released later that day after posting a $100,000 bond. 

 

According to NPR, she is represented by Earl Gray, a well-known Minnesota defense attorney who has represented a number of police officers. The court appearance was held on Thursday on Zoom. The meeting was brief. Her next scheduled appearance is on May 17 in person. Judge Regina Chu of Hennepin County has been assigned to the trial.

 

Although this shooting appeared to be an accident that cost Wright his life, the statistics behind this matter are shocking. People of color makeup 93.3% of the population in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, meaning only 6.7% of people currently living there are white. However, 87% of the Brooklyn Center police officers are white. Not one officer working for the Brooklyn Center Police Department lives in Brooklyn Center. Since the beginning of 2020 across the United States, 762 people of color have been shot to death by police in the United States. Of those deaths, 271 have been black people. Since the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, 181 more black people have been killed at the hands of the police. Of the 966 police killings since that day, black people account for 18.7% of those, while only making up 13% of the US population. Now Daunte Wright has become another one of those killed at the hands of a police officer..