BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. – A 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Police Department was identified late Monday as the officer who fatally shot a 20-year-old Black man during a traffic stop in what the police chief called an “accidental discharge.”
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension identified Officer Kim Potter, 48, who has been placed on administrative leave, as the officer who shot Daunte Wright on Sunday.
Police Chief Tim Gannon on Monday said he believed Potter mistook her firearm for her Taser when she shot Wright on Sunday and released body-camera footage of the incident during which Potter shouted “Taser” before firing.
Meanwhile, City Manager Curt Boganey was fired. Boganey said Monday the officer should be given due process after Mayor Mike Elliot said she should be fired. The city manager has control of the police department, but Elliot said the city council voted Monday to give the mayor’s office “command authority.”
Protests grew outside the Brooklyn Center police station Monday as hundreds gathered despite a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
A massive law enforcement presence descended on the Minneapolis area, and about about 1,000 Minnesota National Guard troops were expected to be activated by Monday night. Brooklyn Center is about 10 miles north of Minneapolis, where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd was in its third week of testimony.
Here’s what we know Tuesday:
Officer identified; Wright’s death ruled homicide
Potter was identified late Monday by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state agency leading the investigation into Wright’s death.
According to the Star Tribune, Potter, 48, became a police officer in 1995 and has served on the department’s negotiation team.
Potter was also one of the first officers on the scene of a fatal police shooting in 2019, when officers shot an autistic man, Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who had allegedly grabbed a knife, the Star Tribune reported.
The newspaper, citing an investigative report from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, reported Potter told two officers involved in the shooting to “exit the residence, get into separate squad cars, turn off their body worn cameras, and to not talk to each other.”
Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Monday that Wright died from a gunshot wound to his chest and ruled the death a homicide.
Protests grow outside Brooklyn Center police department
The crowds began gathering in the afternoon outside the police headquarters in Brooklyn Center and drew hundreds by the evening.
A drum beat incessantly, and the crowd broke into frequent chants of “Daunte Wright!”
About 90 minutes after the curfew deadline, police began firing gas canisters and flash-bang grenades to drive protesters away, sending clouds wafting over the crowd and pushing some back, at least briefly. Some protesters, wearing gas masks, picked up smoke canisters and threw them back toward police.
About 40 arrests were made ranging from curfew violation to rioting, Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said during a news conference early Tuesday. Some officers suffered minor injuries from thrown objects during the protests, Langer added.
A candlelight memorial for Wright, including a raised fist statue, was erected where he was shot Monday night.
Demonstrators gathered in other cities around the U.S., too, drawing crowds in New York and Los Angeles, as well as in Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; and Louisville, Kentucky.
The Minnesota Twins (MLB), Wild (NHL) and Timberwolves (NBA) all postponed home games scheduled for Monday.
Wright’s family remember son, brother: ‘He would give you the shirt off his back’
At a vigil Monday, Wright’s family expressed their frustration and emotion as they remembered Wright, a 20-year-old father of a young child who was driving his new car when he was shot.
“He was my son, and I can never get that back, because of a mistake, because of an accident?” his mother, Katie Wright, said.
“I just need everyone to know that he is much more than this,” Wright added, per the Star Tribune. “He had a smile that was angelic.
Hundreds gathered for the vigil near the site where Wright was shot.
Wright’s family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Floyd family and many other families who have lost loved ones in police shootings, and co-counsel Jeff Storms.
Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, told the Washington Post his son was driving the car his family had just purchased for him and going to get a car wash when he was pulled over.
Wright’s mother said Wright had called her as he was being pulled over. She said she told Wright to hand the phone to police so she could speak with them and give them insurance information, but she heard the officers tell him to hang up the phone and get out of the car.
Wright’s mother said Wright told her he was being pulled over for air fresheners in his rearview mirror. Gannon said officers pulled him over for an expired registration but noticed the air fresheners after the stop.
Gannon said officers tried to arrest Wright because of an outstanding warrant.
Court records show Wright was being sought 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.
Video from Potter’s body-worn camera shows an officer on the driver side of Wright’s car being to arrest Wright when Potter steps forward and grabs Wright’s arm.
Wright then appears to reenter the driver seat in a struggle in the video. Potter is heard shouting “Taser” as she draws her firearm and shoots Wright. Wright drives away, and Potter is heard shouting, “Oh (expletive), I just shot him.”
Dallas Bryant, Wright’s brother, described his brother as a “loyal” person and a great father, brother and uncle.
“Everybody who knows Daunte knows what type of kid he is. He would give you the shirt off his back,” Bryant said.
Contributing: Elinor Aspegren, Erik Newland and Jorge Ortiz; The Associated Press