“ TASER, TASER, TASER , I just shot him”.
The trial of Derick Chauvin was heading toward a verdict the most meaningful murder case America may have ever seen, the murder of George Floyd. Then, ten miles away in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a police traffic stop occurred. 20-year-old Daunte Wright was stopped and found with an outstanding warrant for his arrest pending.
A 25 year veteran of the Brooklyn Center police force, a trainer of officers, and the wife of a retired police officer Kim Potter attempted to arrest Wright. She failed too. He struggled to drive away with her Glock 9mm gun already drawn; she yelled, “taser, taser, taser but shot Daunte Wright. Kim Potter screamed.” I shot him” and collapsed on the ground in a fetal position.
A fellow officer had to take away her gun out of fear of her committing suicide; she would later ask for her weapon to do just that.
I hated Kim Potter and the kind of officer that she stood for. I could not understand how after the murder of George Floyd and what America had to realize from his death, an officer could kill a black man. Unarmed from a traffic stop based on a non-violent warrant. Without any effort to deescalate the traffic stop.
But a year later, I felt different about Kim Potter, and I am a black man. I have written about police violence and systemic racism. Unfortunately, Kim Potter is a victim of the same system that caused her to kill Daunte Wright. Kim Potter was trained to respond as a warrior in her police training. Today, in American, police are on a path to kill as many in 2021 (1,126)as in 2020. Currently, in 2021 1,057 have been killed by police, with blacks making up between 27 % and 29%.
Kim Potter was not a guardian of Daunte Wright or the people of Brooklyn Center. she was never taught to be one in her 25 years as a police officer. Still, she was trained to be a warrior. So when he resisted arrest, Daunte Wright became a threat to her and the other officers. She was fighting danger and taught to kill first above deescalating, so she drew her gun.
Brooklyn Centers police department is 90% white. The city’s demographics are 27% black, Latinx, 7% Native American, 17%, and whites 43%. But blacks in 2020 were 60% of the arrests by police. In addition, the police force in Brooklyn Center has a history of excessive force by officers and stun gun-related deaths. Between 2012 and 2021, six men were killed by the Brooklyn Center police force; 4 were black, and one API with only one white male.
Sinthanouxay Khottavongsa in 2015 was killed after a fight that Brooklyn Center police attempted to stop by using a stun gun. Still, he fell from the stun gun shooting and striking his head. Khottavongsa died two days later. Then in 2019, Kobe-Dimock-Heisler, an autistic man, was angry and lunged at police following a domestic dispute with his grandmother, who called for police help. But Heisler was shot six times by officers after being hit by a stun gun. In all of these cases, officers were justified in their shootings after the District Attorney reviewed it until Kim Potter killed Daunte Wright. But what changed in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota?
Attorney General Keith Ellison called her case one of accountability for an officer using deadly force. Still, her former police chief testified in Potter’s trial that she was justified in using it. Kobe-Dimock-Heisler had a knife and was in a Psychotic rage; Daunte Wright was attempting to drive away both were killed for being a threat to police.
But Kim Potter was charged, tried, and convicted, unlike her fellow officers in Brooklyn Center.
The New York Times reported that in 20 years, there were 15 cases of “weapon confusion.”
Only 5 were indicted, and 2 were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a prison term before Kim Potter.
Brooklyn Center exploded into protests following the killing of Daunte Wright; the police used flash-bang grenades and tear gas to control the protest. There were multiple arrests, and the local and national media covered the mayor and police chief press conferences.
The Brooklyn Center City Council passed a resolution banning chokeholds and dangerous crowd control tactics such as tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets. But media reports found that the police still used these weapons.
As the panic spread, protests began in Minneapolis, St.Paul, and across America. Kim Potter’s face was in the same light as Derek Chauvin’s. Finally, the Governor ordered curfews and the mayors of Minneapolis and St.Paul declared a ‘state of emergency.
Kim Potter had to flee her home in Brooklyn Center with her husband and sons for safety reasons. She became as much of a monster as Derek Chauvin. But she was not like Chauvin, who had no sense of feelings or remorse for George Floyd. He held his knee on Floyd’s neck as he begged for his life, and he had no concern as bystanders protested. The moment she shot Daunte Wright, Potter screamed that she shot him and was emotionally in anguish at what she had done. But the city government and police leaders pushed her away and made her a rogue officer.
The California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters would attend a BLM protest for the George Floyd trial but linked it with the shooting of Daunte Wright. Governor Tim Waltz sent in the National Guard for fear that there could be unrest over Wright’s death and the Floyd trial.
The trial of Kim Potter becomes a snapshot of America’s racial divide.
The Washington County Attorney Pete Orput requested the Attorney General to prosecute the charges against Potter. Washington County prosecutor Imran Ali resigned because of the political and racial politics in the case. Attorney General Keith Ellison, a black man, was forced to manage Potter’s Prosecution. The judge for the case had protestors outside her home demanding that live TV be allowed. One protestor live-streamed his standing at the door of her home to call others to request live TV coverage of the Potter trial.
The conviction of Derek Chauvin On April 20,2021
was covered by multiple TV networks, and the verdict’s reaction affected the security of Minneapolis and the nation, with all major cities were on high alert. President Joe Biden and the Attorney General Merit Garland asked the country to accept justice from the jury verdict. The death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, caused many to feel betrayed by the nation’s awareness about unarmed people of color being killed by the police.
There was a feeling that nothing had changed in America.
People in the Minneapolis area remembered how the streets were filled with protesters of all races and backgrounds demanding justice for George Floyd and others killed by the police.
Black people demanded to have Kim Potter convicted to prove police accountable in Minnesota and America. But statically, nothing has changed with deadly force and people of color. The percentage of black people killed by police between 2020 and 2021 was 23%. This has been a consistent number since 2000, and the rate of police officers charged less than one percent.
I remember yelling, ‘Taser. Taser. Taser.’ And nothing happened. And then, he told me, I shot him.”
Her defense lawyers attempted to claim that Daunte Wright’s killing was justified during her trial because he tried to flee and placed officers’ lives in danger. But until she took the stand to explain the shooting, the defense pushed the warrior method as acceptable. But her reaction from the body cam revealed an officer in anguish after the shooting. On the witness stand, Kim Potter sobbed over her sorrow that the shooting caused the family of Daunte Wright, her community, and fellow officers. The Prosecution admitted it was a tragic error, but Daunte Wright’s life at 20 years was over because of it. Finally, attorney General Keith Ellison realized Kim Potter was a good officer until the shooting, but she had to be held accountable.
Potter also shouted, “I’m going to go to prison” because she “killed a boy,”
Why is “warrior policing” not on trial?
On Dec. 23, 2021, the jury found Kim Potter guilty on all charges in the death of Daunte Wright. As I watched the moment, I felt a level of sorrow for her; she did not cry, but her face revealed that she had expected to be convicted.
As she walked away in handcuffs, she called out to her husband that she loved him, and he replied, “I love you, Kim.” She was determined to be strong, and she was for her family.
In her last moment of freedom, Kim Potter revealed who she really was and the person we need to understand who killed Daunte Wright and why.
America needs to allow Kim Potter to tell this story. A story of how a flawed system of policing caused a respected officer and woman to make a fatal mistake by responding as a warrior and not as a guardian.
The story is not the same as Derek Chauvin’s, but the punishment is treated the same as years of prison. Kim Potter needs to tell America her story of how the training and policing system in a moment damaged her life.
But she can reflect on the failures of the warrior method of training and policing that caused the killing of George Floyd and Daunte Wright. Today Metro Minneapolis is expecting the highest murder rate in its history. The black community and social activists are divided by de-funding the police and continue distrusting the police. There have been reports of officers taking a “hands off” action when called for shots fired in the black community.
When Kim Potter is sentenced in February, she faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
But would that serve as justice for her crime? Kim Potter can reveal the danger and tragedy that warrior training causes for police and the public.
Her story could finally end the warrior policing training in America. She could do this. She killed Daunte Wright and cannot bring him back or remove the pain his family feels. But she can influence the communities with what kind of policing it wants and the officers it hires. The only way to resolve excessive force by police is to change how and when to use it.
In that case, we need to let Kim Potter tell us why she failed to be a guardian for Daunte Wright.
I didn’t want to hurt anybody,” Potter said.