Daunte Wright’s family on Tuesday rejected the police explanation that his killing during a traffic stop could be blamed on an officer’s accidental use of deadly force.
Wright, 20, was killed by a single bullet fired Sunday afternoon by Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police Officer Kim Potter. Police Chief Tim Gannon, who resigned Tuesday along with Potter, said Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, mistakenly grabbed her gun and not her Taser.
Wright family attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jeff Storms said they do not accept the police assertion that the deadly confrontation was 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 Tuesday in Minneapolis. “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 on Monday released Potter’s body-camera video, in which she appeared to yell, “Taser, Taser, Taser,” telling her fellow officer that she was about to stun Wright during the traffic stop. But moments after she opened fire, she could be heard saying: “Holy s— I just shot him.”
Gannon said officers are trained to holster their guns on the side of their dominant hand and their 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 Wright’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 Wright when she dropped off their son with a loved one.
“I didn’t know that as going to be the last 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, Potter said she would leave the police department immediately. 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,” her letter read.
Wright was shot about 14 miles north of where George Floyd was killed last year as the officer charged in his death is on 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 tried to apprehend Wright. Body-camera video appeared to show Wright getting out of his car and then getting back in before shots rang out.