In the midst of the Derek Chauvin murder trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota, another tragedy at the hands of law enforcement is unfolding 10 miles away in Brooklyn Center. Just before 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, officers called in a traffic violation on a car with expired license plates and air fresheners hanging from the rearview mirror–an act prohibited by Minnesota state law. Inside the vehicle was the father of a two-year-old son, Daunte Wright.
During the traffic stop, officers discovered a warrant for Wright’s arrest for failure to appear in court, possessing a firearm without a permit, and running from law enforcement. During an attempt to handcuff Wright, he struggled to get back into his car. Before Wright was able to flee, a senior officer, who has been identified as 26-year police veteran, Kim Potter can be heard on police bodycam video yelling, “Taser, Taser, Taser.” Soon after, that same officer can then be heard saying, “I shot him.”
According to reports, Officer Potter alleges the shooting was accidental.
During a press conference on Monday, Police Chief Tim Gannon said “It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”
Gannon, who has since resigned, showed the bodycam footage during the conference. “This was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.”
Mayor Mike Elliott was given “command authority” over the police according to a vote by the Brooklyn Center City Council Monday afternoon. Elliott, the first Black mayor of Brooklyn Center said the officer, Potter, should be removed from duty.
After being place on a short administrative leave, Officer Potter has now resigned.
In a letter dated April 13, 2021, Potter said that she would be tendering her resignation effective immediately. “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 officer if I resign immediately.”
During a rally in honor of Wright, his mother, Katie wanted everyone to know that he was not only amazing but that his life was more than a headline or life lost because of a mistake.
“He was a son, he was a brother, he was an uncle, he was a father, he was a grandson, he was so much more, and he did not deserve this at all–—my heart is broken into a thousand pieces.”
After Brooklyn Center erupted in protests on Sunday, Mayor Elliot issued a curfew until 6 a.m. Monday morning. Hundreds of protesters gathered at 63rd Avenue North and Lee Avenue, where Wright was pronounced dead.
Wright’s mother confirmed that her son called her during the traffic stop. While she is devastated by the circumstances surrounding his death, she and her family are calling for calm.
“All the violence, if it keeps going it’s only going to be about the violence. We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason,” she said. “We need to make sure it’s about him and not about smashing police cars because that’s not going to bring my son back.”
Monique Wingard is an entrepreneur, educator, and doctoral student in communication, culture, and media studies. Follow her on Instagram @moniquewingard.