Daunte Wright’s family on Tuesday rejected the police explanation that the 20-year-old’s killing during a traffic stop could be blamed on an officer’s accidental use of deadly force.
Wright was killed by a single bullet fired by Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter on Sunday afternoon. Former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who resigned Tuesday along with Potter, said Potter mistakenly grabbed her gun and not her Taser. Potter was a 26-year veteran of the force.
Wright family lawyers Benjamin Crump and Jeff Storms said they don’t accept the police calling the deadly confrontation an accident.
“An accident is knocking over a glass of milk, it’s not an accident to take your gun out of the holster,” Storms told reporters in Minneapolis on Tuesday. “It’s not an accident to point your gun. It’s not an accident to ignore the fact that what you’re holding doesn’t weigh the same amount as the Taser you’ve used in training hundreds of times.
“So don’t tell us it’s an accident because it undermines the tragic loss of life that this family has experienced,” Storms continued. “So whenever anyone tells us it’s an accident, I hope that we are all very quick to retort that.”
Police released Potter’s body-camera footage on Monday and she appeared to yell, “Taser, Taser, Taser,” telling her fellow officer she was about to stun Wright during the traffic stop. But moments after opening fire, she could be heard saying: “Holy s— I just shot him.”
Gannon said officers are trained to holster guns on the side of their dominant hand and Tasers on the other, so they know which weapons are where.
“After 26 years, you would think that you know what side your gun is on and what side your Taser is on,” Crump said. “You know the weight of your gun and you know the weight of the Taser.”
Wright’s anguished aunt Naisha Wright spoke about Daunte’s young son who will grow up without his father.
“He is fatherless, not over a mistake, over a murder,” Naisha Wright shouted. “That’s murder!”
Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Wright’s young son, said she last saw Daunte when she dropped off their son with a loved one.
“I didn’t know that as going to be the lsat time I was going to see him,” Whitaker said. “And I just felt like that’s so wrong because now my son, he don’t have a dad. His dad didn’t get to see him for his second birthday or for any of his birthdays. And I’m just so messed up about it because like I felt they stole my son’s dad from him.”
In her resignation letter, former officer Potter said her departure from the force would be immediate. She did not mention Wright or his family.
“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,” Potter’s resignation letter read.
Wright’s shooting occurred about 14 miles north of where George Floyd was killed last year, as the officer charged in his death currently faces trial. Tensions in the area reignited with Wright’s death, as protesters mourned the death of another Black man during a police encounter.
Wright was driving an SUV with expired license plates, and he also ran afoul of a Minnesota law that prohibits motorists from hanging air fresheners and other items from their rearview mirrors.
“He was pulled over for having an expired registration on the vehicle,” Gannon said Monday. “When the officer went over, an item hanging from the rearview mirror was spotted.”
After police pulled him over, they discovered an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and attempted to apprehend him. Body-cam video appeared to show Wright getting out of his car and then getting back in before shots rang out.
Doha Madani and Corky Siemaszko