Thursday, February 2, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Minnesota Cop Who Shot Daunte Wright Steps Down

The police chief of the Minneapolis suburb where an officer shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man on Sunday also submitted his resignation without a public statement.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (CN) — The Minneapolis-area police officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday has resigned, as has Brooklyn Center's police chief, according to the city’s mayor. 

Officer Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, tendered her resignation just before 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, Mayor Mike Elliott said. Chief of Police Tim Gannon followed suit. 

Potter shot Wright during a traffic stop early Sunday afternoon. Gannon said in a press conference on Monday that Wright, a Black man, had been pulled over for expired license plates. He was shown on Potter’s body camera footage attempting to get back into his car when Potter pointed a gun at him and shouted “Taser, Taser, Taser” before shooting him. 

Gannon said he believed Potter, a white woman, had accidentally shot Wright instead of using a Taser, but that didn’t stop protesters from gathering at the police department’s headquarters on Sunday and Monday nights. On both nights, local and state police and the Minnesota National Guard clashed with demonstrators and deployed tear gas and other “less-lethal” munitions, though Elliott clarified that a new policy required his city’s officers to avoid using those tactics. 

Burglaries and vandalism also spread around the metro area, with perpetrators taking advantage of the distracted police presence. A 7 p.m. curfew was enforced Monday night. 

In her resignation letter, Potter wrote that “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.” 

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput is considering the possibility of charges for Potter. Based in the city of Stillwater on the Wisconsin border, Orput’s office took on the case as part of an agreement forged by several metropolitan county attorneys last summer to take on each others’ cases against police officers to avoid the appearance of bias. 

Some activists, speaking at a press conference Elliott held Tuesday, said that wasn’t enough. Elliott concurred, asking Democratic Governor Tim Walz to put Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office on the case. He also said he hadn’t ruled out the possibility of firing Potter rather than allowing her to resign. 

The mayor also confirmed that he’d asked the police department to remove a “thin blue line” flag from its flagpole, where it had been flying just below the American flag until Monday. Elliott was unclear on whether that had actually happened, but reporter Andy Mannix of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that afternoon that it appeared to have been taken down. 

Some activists at the conference pointed out that license plate tabs around the state were backlogged for several months because of Covid-19. “We believe that our brother was racially profiled… and that part of the excuse was the tabs. And so we have a problem with this kind of minor, petty enforcement that ends in these consequences,” one man said.

“Are your tabs expired? My tabs are expired. I could be racially profiled, and killed,” another said. “I don’t want to fail another young man. We failed George Floyd, we failed Daunte, we failed Philando -- I don’t want to fail another young man this summer,” he said, referencing Philando Castile, who was killed in a 2018 traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights.

A demonstrator heckles authorities who advanced into a gas station after issuing orders for crowds to disperse during a protest against the police shooting of Daunte Wright, late Monday, April 12, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.