The shooting death of another Black man, Daunte Wright, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota has sparked protests yet again about police brutality and accountability across the country.
Wright was a 20-year-old man who was killed during a traffic stop on April 11. Police have charged Kim Potter, the officer who fired the gun, with second-degree manslaughter. She also resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department. According to REVOLT, Potter faces up to 10 years in prison, if convicted and may be required to pay a $20,000 fine. The shooting, which happened about 10 miles from the courtroom where the trial of Derek Chauvin is ongoing for George Floyd’s death, have continued to sparked protests across Minnesota almost a week later.
According to CNN, Wright’s death also signifies the third high-profile killing of a Black man during a police encounter in the Minneapolis area within the last five years, with the shooting of Philando Castile happening in 2016 and Floyd in 2020.
Potter claims she accidentally used her gun instead of deploying her Taser at Wright.
The claim: Should Potter’s professional background as a cop have made her know the difference between a gun and Taser?
Our rating: Yes.
According to CNN, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also found Potter’s gun on the right side of her duty belt and her Taser on the left side. A news release from Washington County Attorney Pete Orput’s office also said the Taser is yellow with a black grip in a straight-draw position, which means Potter would’ve had to use her left hand to pull the Taser out of her belt.
The argument has drawn public scrutiny from the general public, celebrities and even pro-gun advocates such as televangelist Pat Robertson, according to Business Insider, who called the claim “crazy” during a segment on “The 700 Club.”
The Brooklyn Center Police Department’s policy, according to ABC News, says stun guns are intended to control a violent or potentially violent individual, while minimizing serious injury risk. Officers have to be trained and must position stun guns “in a reaction-side holster on the opposite side of their duty weapon.”
Who is Kim Potter?
Before resigning on her volition, Potter was with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years, according to the Bureau. The Star Tribune reported Potter joined the department in 1995, served as the president of the police union in 2019 and was a field training officer.
The Taser versus gun conversation
According to Newsweek, there have been 13 shootings where police claimed they mistakenly shot someone with their gun instead of using their Tasers.
Still Tasers, also known as stun guns, have been linked to 1,081 deaths in the U.S., according to a 2018 Reuters report.
ABC News reports more than 18,000 police and military agencies nationally use Tasers, and a report from the National Institute of Justice says they reduce injuries for officers and suspects.
Rick Smith, the co-creator of the Taser, says he believes his company Axon will make an electric stun gun that will outperform the police pistol, according to Forbes.
“… I think we’ll get there, where, by 2030, we’re going to have non-lethal weapons so good, it will actually be a faster time to incapacitation more reliability than a police pistol,” Smith said. “Five years ago, I would have said you never take a Taser to a gunfight, and I’ve started to challenge that and say, ‘Well, what if the Taser is the better gun?’ And what if it’s actually more effective – it just doesn’t leave the other person dead.”
A spokesperson for Axon told Forbes a Taser device has a different grip and feel, is lighter than a firearm, is offered in yellow to contrast a black firearm, has [an] LED control panel that lights up when the safety is taken off, and it is contained in a holster that is “different and separate from the officer’s firearm.”
Despite the outcome, Potter still has support
According to REVOLT, Brian Peters, the executive director of the Minnesota police and Peace Officers Association, blamed Wright for his own death.
“Daunte Wright – if he would have just complied. He was told he was under arrest. They were arresting him on a warrant for weapons. He set off a chain of events that unfortunately led to his death. I’m not excusing it, but what we’re seeing in policing these days is that non-compliance by the public,” he said.
Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing Wright’s family, said the shooting was no accident. Crump called the shooting an “intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force. … A 26-year veteran of the force knows the different between a Taser and a firearm.”
The home of Potter is currently barricaded by large concrete fencing and under police supervision. She is also out on a $100,000 bond. It’s unknown what protection the Wright family currently have in place.