She’s a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center police force and head of the local police union.
Now investigators are attempting to parse the details that led to the moment Kim Potter unholstered her gun and shot 20-year-old Duante Wright in the chest during a traffic stop, even as she repeatedly screamed, “I’ll tase you!”
Potter, 48, has been placed on administrative leave from the police. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon on Monday described the shooting as an “accidental discharge.”
Soon after, the Brooklyn Center City Council recommended that both Gannon and Potter be removed from their positions. The acting city manager, who has firing power, said he’d make the decision on Tuesday.
Wright’s death has sparked angry protests in Brooklyn Center and beyond, and comes just about six weeks shy of a painful anniversary for the Twin Cities area: the death of George Floyd, who was killed ten miles away in Minneapolis when a white police officer knelt on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Floyd’s death set off an international reckoning over racial injustice, and systemic racism within institutions like police departments and police unions. The murder trial of ex-officer Derek Chauvin is ongoing.
22 Year Veteran
Potter, who was licensed as a police officer in 1995 when she was 22 years old, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, is very much a part of those institutions that have found themselves under heavy scrutiny. During her tenure, she has also served on the force’s hostage negotiation team.
The Star-Tribune also reported that Potter had previously been involved in a fatal police shooting. In August 2019, Brooklyn Center police responded to a domestic violence call involving 21-year-old Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a Black man, who was described as being on the autism spectrum. His grandparents, whom he lived with, had placed the call because Kobe was in the throes of a mental health crisis and wielding a knife and a hammer.
When officers arrived, they shot Kobe six times. His grandparents said that police failed to de-escalate the situation, and provoked him further upon their arrival. Police said that they used deadly force because he came at them with a knife, and they feared for their lives, and the lives of his grandparents. No charges were brought against the officers involved.
Potter was the first officer to arrive on the scene after the shooting, according to the Star Tribune. Upon arrival she instructed the officers 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 Star-Tribune.
Police say that Wright was pulled at around 2 p.m. Sunday due to having expired tabs on his license plate. In the course of the traffic stop, Brooklyn Center police say they realized he had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for his arrest.
Body camera footage shows one cop attempting to handcuff Wright to take him into custody. A second cop approaches to assist when Wright suddenly wriggles free, jumps back into the car, and attempts to shut the door.
Potter, the third cop to intervene, is shown pointing her service weapon at Wright in the drivers’ seat while yelling. “I’ll tase you” repeatedly.
As he drives away, Potter is heard saying “holy shit, I just shot him.” “Woah,” replies another officer at the scene.
UPDATE: April 13, 2021, 1:29 p.m.: Kim Potter has resigned.
In her letter addressed to the mayor, acting city manager and police chief she wrote:
I am tendering my resignation from the Brooklyn Center Police Department effective immediately. I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately.
Officer Kim Potter