Daunte Wright: police chief resigns amid third night of protests in Minneapolis

Family members say they ‘can’t accept’ that shooting was an accident

Kate Wright, Daunte Wright’s mother, speaks alongside the family of George Floyd
Kate Wright, Daunte Wright’s mother, speaks alongside the family of George Floyd
(Image credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The police officer who shot dead Daunte Wright has resigned after the parents of the black man said they reject the police’s claim that the killing was accidental.

The resignation of officer Kim Potter, a veteran with 26 years of service, “came amid a chaotic 24 hours” in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis during which police chief Tim Gannon also resigned and “the City Council fired the city manager”, transferring “control of the police department to the mayor”, The Washington Post reports.

Outside Brooklyn Center Police Department, “law enforcement moved in with heavy force against hundreds of protesters” who gathered at the police station for a third night to protest at the killing, The Minneapolis Star Tribune says.

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“As night fell, an estimated 800 to 1,000 protesters remained outside the station”, the paper continues, with police declaring the gathering unlawful, “deploying flash-bang grenades” to disperse the demonstrators.

“Scores of troopers moved toward the crowd, firing riot gas, projectiles and more flash-bangs”, prompting protestors to respond by “throwing objects such as water bottles back, striking some officers on their helmets”, the paper adds.

Crowds gathered outside the police station after a press conference on Monday during which a video of the shooting was released. The video showed Potter shooting Wright at close range in what police have claimed was a “mistake”, The Times reports.

“Police insisted that she had intended to use a Taser but pulled out her handgun”, the paper adds, with the video showing her repeatedly shout “Taser” before exclaiming: “Holy shit – I just shot him” after discharging her weapon.

Wright’s parents told ABC News yesterday that they did not accept that their son’s killing was accidental, with Aubrey Wright, his father, saying: “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.”

Katie Wright, his mother, said she had been speaking to her son shortly before he was pulled over for having an illegal air freshener hanging in his car. “I know my son was scared. He’s afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice,” she said. “But I don’t know why, and it should have never escalated the way it did.”

Naisha Wright, Wright’s aunt, also said she doubted the police explanation, telling CNN: “An accident? No, come on now. I've owned a 20,000-volt Taser. They don’t feel nothing like a gun. Nothing like a gun. He didn’t deserve to die.”

The death of another unarmed black man “comes as a major police trial is playing out 10 miles from where Wright was shot”, The Washington Post notes. “Racial tensions were already running high”, The Times adds, with the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, currently taking place in the city.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said that the events surrounding Wright’s death “couldn’t have happened at a worse time”, adding: “We are collectively devastated.”

As court broke for lunch on the 12th day of the Chauvin murder trial, the relatives of Wright and Floyd held a joint press conference during which civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is now representing both families, said Wright’s death was “unbelievable, something I cannot fathom”.

“If ever there was a time where nobody in America should be killed by police, it was during this pinnacle trial of Derek Chauvin, what I believe is one of the most impactful civil rights, police excessive use of force cases in the history of America”, he added.

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Joe Evans is the world news editor at TheWeek.co.uk. He joined the team in 2019 and held roles including deputy news editor and acting news editor before moving into his current position in early 2021. He is a regular panellist on The Week Unwrapped podcast, discussing politics and foreign affairs. 

Before joining The Week, he worked as a freelance journalist covering the UK and Ireland for German newspapers and magazines. A series of features on Brexit and the Irish border got him nominated for the Hostwriter Prize in 2019. Prior to settling down in London, he lived and worked in Cambodia, where he ran communications for a non-governmental organisation and worked as a journalist covering Southeast Asia. He has a master’s degree in journalism from City, University of London, and before that studied English Literature at the University of Manchester.