The police officer, who shot dead Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, during a traffic stop in Minneapolis mistook her gun for a Taser, police said Monday. She has been identified as Kimberly Potter, a 25-year veteran of the force, who has now been placed administrative leave from the Brooklyn Center Police Department following the fatal shooting.
The 48-year-old officer's identity was released Monday night by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Police also released bodycam footage of the incident, showing the officer screaming, "Taser! Taser!" before firing one shot, only to realize that she had used her gun instead of the Taser.
Big Mistake Costs Life
On Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said that Wright died due to "an accidental discharge" by the Potter. The bodycam footage released by the police shows Potter yelling "Taser! Taser!" as others struggled with Wright in his car. Wright then steps out of his car and again leaps back behind the wheel and drives off.
The next moment Potter is heard shouting, "Holy sh*t, I shot him" after allegedly accidentally firing her gun instead of her taser during the struggle on Sunday.
Brian Peters, head of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said Potter was working on Sunday as a field training officer, training a new officer, when the incident took place. "She's just a very dedicated, passionate, good person. It's completely devastating," Peters said. "In a very tense moment, she made a mistake. It's not her character."
Wright was shot dead on Sunday afternoon around 2 pm after he and his girlfriend were pulled over during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center for what police say was an expired car registration. The officers then learned Wright, who has a toddler son, had an outstanding warrant against him.
The fatal shooting took place just blocks from the site of George Floyd's police-custody death in Minneapolis on May 25. The footage showed one officer trying to handcuff Wright as a second officer told him he was being arrested on a warrant. Wright immediately jumped back into his car in an apparent attempt to flee.
Pooter initially warns Wright and then fires at him realizing that it was not a taser. It appears she dropped her gun in the aftermath.
Although the police department has been trying to defend Potter, Wright's death has once again sparked protests calling for end of police atrocities. Images from the scene Monday showed demonstrators back on the streets, as police in riot gear and National Guard troops were deployed in anticipation of more unrest.
Also, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said during the press conference that the officer should immediately be fired. "My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession," Elliott said, adding he fully supported relieving the officer of her duties.
The press conference, which was attended by journalists and community activists, got heated at times when some accused authorities of working hard to protect a "killer cop than a victim of police murder."
Potter has been working with the department for 25 years and is regarded as a responsible officer by her colleagues. She acquired her Minnesota police officer's license in 1995 and the age of 22 and began working for the Brooklyn Center Police Department soon after that.
Potter is married to a former police officer and has two adult sons, according to the Tribune, which first named the officer. She had annual salary of $86,190, according to public records from 2018.
However, this isn't the first time that Potter has courted controversy. In a previous fatal shooting of a man in the Minneapolis suburb in August 2019, Potter was among the first to arrive at the scene where Kobe Dimock-Heisler died after he allegedly rushed at officers with a knife in a home.
Potter ordered the two officers involved "to exit the residence, get into separate squad cars, turn off their body worn cameras, and to not talk to each other," according to an investigative report from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, obtained by the paper.
Both officers' actions were found to be justified and no charges were filed. However, Potter seems to have landed in big trouble this time around and now stands to lose her job.