Brooklyn Center officer, chief resign; mayor wants AG Ellison to handle Wright case

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon looks on during a press conference.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon looks on as the video of the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright is played during a press conference at the Brooklyn Center police headquarters on Monday in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Gannon referred to the incident as an "accidental discharge" and that the officer who shot and killed Wright meant to grab their Taser.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images

3 things to know:

  • Brooklyn Center police chief and officer who killed Daunte Wright both resign; demonstrations continue

  • Minneapolis, St. Paul, Maple Grove order curfew starting 10 p.m. Tuesday night; Brooklyn Park curfew starts at 8 p.m.

  • Washington County Attorney’s Office reviewing Wright’s killing for possible charges; decision may come as soon as Wednesday

Updated: 5:15 p.m.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott on Tuesday called for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to handle the case of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old who was killed Sunday by a Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop.

Elliott also said that Kim Potter, the officer who shot Wright, has resigned, as has Tim Gannon, who was the city’s police chief.

Ellison’s office is currently overseeing the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer on trial now for murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.

The Washington County Attorney’s Office has been tapped to review the Brooklyn Center shooting for possible charges. That decision could come as soon as Wednesday. Ellison is focused on Chauvin but expects Washington County Attorney Pete Orput to move quickly, a Walz administration spokesperson said.

Separately Tuesday, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said he’s now representing the family of Daunte Wright. He did not say if he would take specific legal action against the city of Brooklyn Center, but said the officer and the city should be held accountable.

Speaking next to Crump, Wright's grandmother Angie Golson said she couldn't believe it when she heard he'd been killed. “It hurt me to my heart. Daunte was a beautiful child,” she said. “He might not have been an angel, but he was our angel. Our angel.”

Officials: Cop meant to fire Taser but drew handgun

Brooklyn Center officials on Monday said Wright’s killing was an accident, that Potter, a 26-year police veteran, had intended to stun the man with her Taser gun but accidentally drew her handgun instead and fired once.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Wright died by a single shot to the chest and ruled the death a homicide.

Wright was stopped by police at around 2 p.m. Sunday as he was driving in a residential neighborhood.

Brooklyn Center police said in an earlier statement that officers discovered “an outstanding warrant” and tried to take him into custody, when he got back into his car. Gannon on Monday noted the registration tabs on the license plates were expired, although it wasn’t clear if that was the initial reason for the stop.

Footage played Monday by the chief showed officers taking Wright into custody by the car but Wright gets away from their grip and back into the driver’s seat as a struggle ensues.

Potter can be heard yelling “Taser! Taser! Taser!” to alert her fellow officers that she plans to stun Wright. But she’s holding her handgun when she fires.

Wright managed to drive off but crashed into another vehicle several blocks away.

News of the killing led to demonstrations. On Monday night, hundreds of people gathered outside the Brooklyn Center police station just before a 7 p.m. curfew went into effect for Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Dakota counties, per Gov. Tim Walz’s order.

While Walz’s curfew is lifted, the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Maple Grove ordered a curfew starting Tuesday night at 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Wednesday. Brooklyn Park ordered a curfew starting at 8 p.m.

‘He didn’t deserve this’

On Monday night, as the sun was setting and the drizzle falling, Clarence McCrownsie — who grew up in Brooklyn Center — came out to join the growing group of people gathered outside the police station.

Until now, the 19-year-old had never taken part in a protest, but this time was different. McCrownsie said he knew Wright as a child. They hadn’t stayed in close touch after, but McCrownsie said the news that Wright was killed hit him hard.

“We used to go to school together. We knew each other since we were little kids. And it’s heartbreaking, so I’m sad about it,” McCrownsie said. “So I’m out here protesting for him. We need justice for him. He didn’t deserve this at all.”

Hundreds of people gathered on Humboldt Avenue outside the police station. It was tense from the beginning. Officers, wearing riot gear and armed with nightsticks, stood behind a chain link fence absorbing taunts from people on the other side.

As night fell, an officer with a bullhorn declared the assembly unlawful, and warned everyone to leave. Police began using tear gas.

While some did disperse, others launched aerial fireworks at police. Officers fired flash-bang grenades, 40 mm foam rounds and more tear gas canisters.

The crowd shrank in size as scores of police standing shoulder to shoulder pushed the crowd north on Humboldt Avenue. Throughout the evening, there was no visible National Guard presence near the police station.

A man in riot gear looks through a fence.
Police officers in riot gear monitor a crowd of protesters gathering outside of the in Brooklyn Center Police Department on Monday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

No one immediately stopped looters from breaking into the Dollar Tree and Boost Mobile stores in a shopping center across the street. By 9:30 p.m., smoke could be seen wafting out of the Dollar Tree’s broken windows.

A half hour later, as police continued their push toward 69th Avenue, the crowd had largely departed.

Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said at least 40 people were arrested in Brooklyn Center. Many were cited for misdemeanor curfew violations; those suspected of more serious crimes are being held in the Hennepin County Jail.

Friends and family comfort a woman whose son was shot and killed by police.
Friends and family comfort Katie Wright (right) while she speaks briefly to the media on Sunday in Brooklyn Center.
Jeff Wheeler | Star Tribune via AP

Wright's mother, Katie Wright, appeared with his father and a pair of attorneys on “Good Morning America” Tuesday. Katie Wright said that she’d been on the phone with her son just seconds before he was shot.

She said she couldn’t imagine why the situation escalated so quickly.

“I know my son was scared. He was afraid of the police,” she said, adding that she “heard the fear in his voice.”

“It should have never, ever escalated the way that it did.”

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