BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — A white Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb resigned Tuesday.
Kim Potter resigned two days after the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center. Potter, a 26-year veteran, had been on administrative leave following Sunday’s shooting.
The city’s police chief has said he believes Potter mistakenly grabbed her gun when she was going for her Taser. She can be heard on her body camera video shouting “Taser! Taser!”
“Whenever, through the line of duty, someone kills another human being, there must be accountability,” Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott told the “Today” show earlier Tuesday.
Activists and some residents say Wright was racially profiled, and his death has sparked two days of clashes between police and protesters. The shooting happened as the Minneapolis area was already on edge over the trial of the first of four police officers in George Floyd’s death.
Wright was shot as police were trying to arrest him on an outstanding warrant.
“I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” the officer is heard shouting on her body cam footage released Monday. She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police outside his car and gets back behind the wheel.
After firing a single shot from her handgun, the car speeds away, and the officer is heard saying, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”
Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that he rejects the explanation that the officer mistakenly took out her gun.
“I lost my son. He’s never coming back. I can’t accept that. A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right. This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can’t accept that,” he said.
Wright’s family planned to speak again Tuesday alongside the family of George Floyd at the courthouse where the trial is being held for a former Minneapolis police officer charged in his death. Protests erupted for a second night following Sunday’s shooting, heightening anxiety in an area already on edge as the Derek Chauvin trial progresses. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck.
Chauvin and three other officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death. Potter was placed on administrative leave while the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates Wright’s death.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the police union, issued a statement Tuesday saying “no conclusions should be made until the investigation is complete.”
The advent of social media and body cameras has forced police departments to move much quickly than in the past, said Alex Piquero, chairman of the University of Miami’s sociology department.
Potter has experience with investigations into police shootings. Potter was one of the first officers to respond after Brooklyn Center police fatally shot a man who allegedly allegedly tried to stab an officer with a knife in August 2019, according to a report from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
After medics arrived, she told the two officers who shot the man to get into separate squad cars, turn off their body cameras, and not to speak to each other. She was also the police union president for the department and accompanied two other officers involved in the shooting while investigators interviewed them.
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.
Brooklyn Center is a modest suburb just north of Minneapolis that has seen its demographics shift dramatically in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Today, a majority of residents are Black, Asian or Latino.
Wright’s death prompted protests in other U.S. cities, including in Portland, Oregon, where police said a demonstration turned into a riot Monday night, with some in the crowd throwing rocks and other projectiles at officers.
Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Tim Sullivan in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
Mohamed Ibrahim is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.