Gun v. Taser: Does Potter’s shooting of Daunte Wright make sense?

by | Apr 14, 2021 | Criminal Justice, Policy

In yet another police involved shooting in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed in his car after he was pulled over for an expired car registration according to a Brooklyn Center Police report on April 13. 

According to his mother Katie Wright, Daunte was told by police that he was being pulled over for having air fresheners in his rearview mirror. 

On Monday, BCP also released body cam footage that shows officers attempting to arrest Wright after they discovered he had a warrant out for his arrest. 

The footage then shows Wright breaking loose from the arrest and struggling with officers in the driver’s seat of his car. 

Next, 26 year veteran officer, Kim Potter, shouts “Taser!” “Taser!”, but instead grabs her Glock 17 and shoots Wright. 

“Holy sh-t, I just shot him,” Potter said on the body cam video. 

In a press conference on Monday, former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said he thinks Potter, who allegedly shot Wright, grabbed the wrong weapon. 

“As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s command, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Wright with a single bullet,” he said. 

Gannon called the routine traffic stop an “accidental discharge.” 

Since the press conference on Monday, Gannon and Potter have both resigned from the BC police department. 

According to the gun maker’s website, the gun Potter grabbed, if fully loaded, would weigh around 34 ounces or two pounds. 

While a police department issued taser is eight ounces or less than half a pound according to the manufacturer’s website. 

Despite numerous protests across the nation, Republican Texas legislators have been silent on the shooting. 

Yet, on Tuesday, the Texas Senate passed a “Back the Blue”  bill which would require any Texas county to hold an election before they could approve the reallocation of funds from the police department. 

Texas Litigation Case Manager, former police officer, and police academy trainer Dax Salmon said officers are trained to use both electronic control devices and guns properly, but are supposed to always use the least amount of force as possible. 

 “It all comes down to training, you can put it anywhere you want, but if you don’t train that person well then they may pull the wrong thing,” he said.

Salmon also said, in the shooting with Wright, Potter shouldn’t have used her electronic control device or her gun. 

“If her partner had hands on the guy, you wouldn’t tase him because you’re going to put your officer down too,” he said. “Unless the guy had a weapon and was a serious threat to life or partner you wouldn’t use a gun either.” 

According to Salmon, the definition of deadly force in law enforcement is the action that can cause serious bodily injury or death. “Serious bodily injury and death could mean broken bones or death,” he said. 

In the press conference, Gannon also said officers are trained to have their gun on their dominant side. 

Salmon also said officers are trained to use a “use of force continuum” in every situation. 

“As the situation escalates and the officers are able to persuade the person to cooperate then you go up the continuum and use less force,” he said. 

Salmon also said that all pistols, handguns and electronic stun guns have safeties and all police departments teach their officers three key points on handling equipment. 

“One: make sure the gun is safe, two: never point it at anything you don’t want to destroy targets, pistols, and people, three: keep your hands off the trigger until you’re absolutely ready to shoot,” he said. 

On Wednesday, Kim Potter was arrested and charged with 2nd degree manslaughter. 

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kennedy@texassignal.com | + posts

Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.

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