Kim Potter, the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright, announced Tuesday that she had resigned from the force.
“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 the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately,” Potter said in a letter to Brooklyn Center, Minn., officials.
The city's police chief, Tim Gannon, also resigned Tuesday.
Police officials said that Wright, 20, was pulled over Sunday afternoon for an expired registration when officers observed he also had an object hanging from his rearview mirror. Wright’s mother told reporters at the scene that she received a call from her son telling her that police had pulled him over for having air fresheners dangling from his rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.
When police ran Wright’s name, they noted he had outstanding warrants and started to take him into custody. When he attempted to get back into his vehicle, Potter shot him. Later, Potter said she had meant to fire her Taser at him but had accidentally grabbed her revolver instead.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott had called for Potter to lose her job on Monday. Gannon said at the same press conference that he wanted an investigation but “for all intents and purposes, I think we can look at the video and ascertain whether or not she’ll be returned.”
At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Elliott confirmed both resignations and said the city would be appointing two senior commanders into acting leadership roles. Elliott also noted that he had not asked Potter to resign but the process of firing her was underway.
“We were informed less than an hour ago about the change in status,” said Tony Gruenig, a 19-year department veteran who was appointed as acting chief. “There’s a lot of chaos going on right now. We’re just trying to wrap our heads around the situation and create some calm.”
During the press conference, Elliott said that he didn't believe any of the 49 Brooklyn Center police officers lived in the city and that "very few" members of the force were Black. Brooklyn Center, the state's most diverse city, elected Elliott as its first Black mayor in 2018.
Potter, 48, is a 26-year veteran of the force who had been placed on administrative leave. Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, did not respond to an interview request from Yahoo News but told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Potter was working with a new officer Sunday as a field training officer. Elliott was unsure if the resignation would allow her to keep her pension.
The Hennepin County medical examiner stated Monday that Wright “died of a gunshot wound of the chest and manner of death is homicide.”
The incident occurred just miles from the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in last year’s killing of George Floyd.
The warrant for Wright’s arrest had been issued earlier this month after he missed a court appearance for two misdemeanor charges filed last year: carrying a pistol without a permit and running from officers.
Potter previously served as the president of the Brooklyn Center police union and was on the scene in 2019 when police shot and killed Kobe Dimock-Heisler, an autistic man who was allegedly threatening them with a knife. According to a report from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Potter was one of the first to arrive on the scene and instructed the officers involved “to exit the residence, get into separate squad cars, turn off their body worn cameras, and to not talk to each other.” Potter was present for subsequent interviews of the officers, and no charges were filed in the case.
According to multiple reports, Potter is now being represented by longtime defense attorney Earl Gray. Gray also represents Thomas Lane, one of the three officers who were on the scene and stood by last year as Chauvin kneeled on Floyd. In a combative June 2020 interview, Gray told CNN it was unfair to blame his client for Floyd’s death when the public was standing by as well.
“If all these people say, why didn’t my client intercede, well, if the public is there and they’re so in an uproar about this, they didn’t intercede either,” Gray said.
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