Daunte Wright: What went wrong?

The shooting of Daunte Wright can only be described as a sad tragedy. What should had been a simple traffic stop quickly escalated into a situation that would leave one man dead and an officer facing charges. What happened on the day Daunte was shot? Here’s what we currently know.

On 04/11/2021,  Wright was pulled over for having an expired tag. During this time, officers had discovered an active warrant for Wright. For this reason, they proceeded to make an arrest. However, the situation was about to take a turn for the worst.

As officers attempted to cuff Wright, he began to resist, pulling himself out of the arms of officer Potter. She proceeded to reach for a taser, only to accidently retrieve her service weapon. With Wright in his vehicle, attempting to flee, Potter yells, “taser, taser.” This was to notify other officers, as well as Wright, that the use of a less than lethal weapon was about to commence.

Upon yelling this, Potter fires one round, fatally shooting Wright in the chest. At this point, we can hear Potter say, “Oh my God, I just shot him.” Wright’s vehicle drives for several blocks before crashing into the back of another vehicle. What went wrong? Let’s review that aspect.

What went wrong?

Things initially started out as a very standard traffic stop. However, things begin to quickly go wrong once officers begin to make an arrest. So how could things go so seriously wrong in such a short time? For this, we have to look at the actions of officer Potter.

Most departments have a standard policy regarding their tasers and service weapons. In general, the two are to be kept separated. This is to prevent exactly what happened in the Wright situation. Potter’s department’s policy was: Service weapons were to be placed on the “dominant” side of the officer. The taser was to be placed on the officer’s “weak” side. However, from the context of the video, we know that officer Potter may had been in violation of this policy.

If she had placed her taser in the location, as described by her department’s policy, Duane may had very well survived this encounter. Evidence of the potential violation comes in the fact that she had intended to reach for the taser, only to grab her pistol instead.

The other aspect of where “things went wrong,” actually began with Duane Wright. If he had not resisted, over a gross misdemeanor warrant, just as stated above, he very well could had survived this encounter. Although this is true, this does not excuse the fact that officer Potter used lethal force in a situation that did not require it.

Every department has as “use of force” policy. This policy outlines what type of force can be used as well as when it can be used. A man trying to escape is a justified reason for pulling a taser. It is not a justified reason for pulling a service weapon, even if that was done by mistake. Furthermore, officer Potter, a veteran of 20+ years, should had known better than to allow such a mistake to occur. Furthermore, she should had immediately realized that the weapon she pulled was not a taser.

There are fundamental differences between a taser and a service pistol. The weight of each weapon is different. To expand beyond that, the visual difference should had been an indicator. Tasers, as used by law enforcement, are yellow and black. The weapon Potter was holding clearly did not have this color scheme. So, what happens now?

As we all know, officer potter, and the police chief, have resigned. For Potter, the situation has taken more of a legal turn. The day after her resignation, she was arrested. Potter currently sits in the county jail, where she faces charges of negligent manslaughter. I have no doubt that she will be convicted. In this situation, the bodycam photage, speaks for itself.

Potter was careless, and had accidently discharged a weapon that she had not intended. Because of this careless act, a young man is now dead. This situation should serve as a warning, not only to the public, but to other law enforcement officers: If you’re careless, you may create a situation to which there is no return.