The Brooklyn Center Police officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright in what police say was an “accidental discharge” of her gun was identified late Monday as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force and former union president who was training another officer at the time of the killing.
Potter, 48, has been suspended from the Brooklyn Center Police Department pending the results of a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation after she shot Wright, an unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop on Sunday.
According to The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Potter joined the police department in 1995 and was first licensed as a Brooklyn Center officer that same year—at age 22—working in the suburban Minnesota city of roughly 30,000 residents.
She was elected to represent her department’s officers as president of the Brooklyn Center Police Officers Association in 2019, and was a long-time member of the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association, where she served on the “casket team,” an honor guard duty where she would function as a guard or pallbearer for law enforcement funerals.
In 2019, Potter was among the first to arrive at the scene after officers fatally shot a mentally ill man multiple times after he allegedly lunged at them with a knife.
As union president, Potter escorted the officers to the police station and was present during Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation interviews, which resulted in no charges for the officers, finding they acted with “reasonable fear.”
Potter has most recently been serving on the department’s negotiation team, and lives in a different Minneapolis suburb with her husband, a former police officer for the city of Fridley; she has two adult sons.
Brian Peters, the head of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, told the Star-Tribune that Potter was acting as a field training officer, training a new officer on Sunday, when she fatally shot Wright.
Peters also defended Potter’s record as an officer, describing her as a “a very dedicated, passionate, good person.” “It’s completely devastating,” he said.
The shooting of Wright—which happened roughly 10 miles away from where former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd’s death—has resurged the outrage that followed Floyd’s death in May of last year. For the second consecutive night, protesters on Monday clashed with law enforcement outside the Brooklyn Police Department building. National Guard troops have been deployed to the suburban city to help control the unrest, which Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said at a news conference ended in 40 arrests on Monday.
Police Chief Tim Gannon showed Potter’s bodycam footage from the traffic stop at a Monday news conference. In the video clip, Wright, who was pulled over just before 2 p.m. on Sunday for allegedly expired registration tags, is seen returning to his car after the officers attempted to arrest him for an outstanding misdemeanor they discovered while checking his identification. Potter pulls out her gun and yells, “I’ll Tase you!” and then “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before firing. After the shot is fired, Potter is heard saying, “Holy sh—-, I shot him.”
What To Watch For
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said he’s aiming to complete a “thorough yet expedited” review of potential criminal charges in the case by Wednesday. However, some city officials are calling for swifter and more severe discipline against Potter before the results of the investigation are released. Mayor Mike Elliott said on Monday that Potter should be fired.
Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, said during a Tuesday interview with ABC News’s “Good Morning America” that he “cannot accept” that his son’s death was an accident. “I can’t accept that, a mistake, that doesn’t even sound right,” he said. “You know, this officer has been on the force for 26 plus, 26 years. I can’t accept that.”