Daunte Wright


Jazlyn Valentin

On April 11th, 2021, Daunte Wright, a 20 year old black man, was fatally shot by Minnesota police officer Kimberly Ann Potter. Daunte Wright was initially pulled over at a traffic stop, where officials  said he had an expired registration on his car and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. The officers on the scene found that Wright had an outstanding warrant due to his absence in court on charges from possessing a gun without a permit during an encounter with the police in June. After discovering the warrant, they attempted to detain him while he resisted and twisted away, getting back into his car. Ex-officer Kim Potter warned that she would use a Taser gun on him as the released body-camera footage shows her shouting “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before shooting him in his chest with a gun in her right hand. After doing so, she swore and said “I just shot him.” Tim Gannon, chief of police in Minnesota, reported the killing as “accidental discharge.” However, experts say that cases in which officers mistaken a gun for a Taser are rare; it usually only occurs less than once a year nationwide. Daunte Wright’s mother spoke on Good Morning America saying that she was on the phone when he was first pulled over: “She pointed the phone toward the driver’s seat, and my son was laying there unresponsive… That was the last time that I have seen my son. That was the last time I’ve heard from my son, and I have had no explanation since then.” Jeff Storms and Anthony Romanucci, the Wright family’s attorneys, spoke on Good Morning America as well and said, “While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back… This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force… A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a Taser and a firearm. Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant… It’s past time for meaningful change in our country.” In addition to ex-office Potter working for the Police Department for 26 years, she was also training a younger officer at the time. After this tragic incident occurred, people gathered in the police station in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis to protest. 

My Opinion: 

Since this occurred, I have seen many people defending ex-officer Kim Potter, saying that it was just a mistake and what happened was not racially motivated. I agree that we do not know whether it was racially motivated or not; however, this situation shows the flaw in the training of law enforcement. I believe that anyone can see that. I really do question how someone who is in service for 26 years can make such a mistake. A mistake that took someone’s son, someone’s father, away from them. Before Daunte Wright had died, his son had turned one. For starters, Potter’s Taser gun was yellow. So, even though she might have been acting out of her reflexes due to Wright getting back in his car, she could have noticed that the weapon she pulled out was not in fact yellow. Additionally, how can you take on a job that was made to protect us if you are going to make such a callous mistake under pressure? Potter had a Glock 22, a .40 caliber sidearm which weighs a little more than two pounds with fifteen bullets. A taser, however, weighs eight ounces. Eight ounces versus two pounds. Eight ounces versus two pounds! The contrast between the two does not stop there. A Glock has a safety system that prevents accidental discharge. The safety for a Glock 22 is located on the weapon’s trigger. A taser has a safety located on the upper rear left of its barrel. What is most important to take into account is that police officers are trained specifically to prevent accidental discharge. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon says that “we train with our handguns on our dominant side and our Taser on our weak side…. if you’re right-handed, you carry your firearm on your right side, and you carry your Taser on the left. This is done purposefully, and it’s trained.” Potter had shot Daunte Wright with her right hand. Let us not forget how rare a “mistake” like this occurs on the job. According to a 2012 Associated Press report, there were “nine cases in which officers shot suspects with handguns when they said they meant to fire stun guns dating back to 2001.” Potter is not a newbie. She served in the department for 26 years and was training a younger officer as well. Whatever your views on the police are, I believe everyone can see that there are flaws in their training, as we can see from this situation here, as well as many other incidents that have occurred over the years. Change must be made. People need to be held accountable. Standard administrative leave does not bring back Daunte Wright. He should be home right now, spending time with his family and being a dad.

Works Cited

Bauer, Scott. “Former Minnesota Cop Charged in Shooting of Black Motorist.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 15 Apr. 2021, apnews.com/article/kim-potter-2nd-degree-manslaughter-shooting-daunte-wright-5eb0d206f2798e29b22c783b7d6b1d8d. 

Bogel-burroughs, Nicholas, and Julie Bosman. “Minnesota Officer Who Killed Daunte Wright Will Be Charged with Manslaughter.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Apr. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/us/kim-potter-charged-daunte-wright.html. 

Kaye, Chris. “Brooklyn Center Police Chief Says ‘We Train with Our Handguns on Our Dominant Side and Our Taser on Our Weak Side,’ Casting Doubt on ‘Accidental Discharge’ Theory.” Insider, Insider, 13 Apr. 2021, www.insider.com/police-are-trained-to-know-difference-between-taser-and-gun-2021-4#:~:text=By%20contrast%2C%20a%20Taser%20weighs,police%20Tasers%20are%20often%20yellow. 

Wong, Wilson, and Deon J. Hampton. “Ex-Officer Kim Potter Charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter in Daunte Wright Case.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 15 Apr. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ex-officer-kim-potter-be-charged-2nd-degree-manslaughter-daunte-n1264025.