Apr 15, 2021 Letters
Just when the entire world was beginning to grasp (even if momentarily) intricacies of policing– the difference between position and disposition, use of excessive force until the voice goes hoarse and careless awareness of surroundings, the Minneapolis Police Department did it again. Death for Daunte Wright a 20-year-old male, came at the hands of a police officer who mistook a gun for a taser. Pray tell how is it possible for a trained not brained police officer to confuse a taser with an actual gun? This is a question that humans will be asking each other a lot in the days and months to come. The chief of the Brooklyn Center Police Department adjudged that Kim Potter, the 26-year department veteran who fatally shot Daunte Wright did so by accidentally by firing a gun instead of a taser.
From a viewer’s perspective of the video, what is overly strange is the fact that one can see the police officer pointing what is clearly a gun rather than a taser at Wright. It was not the type of occurrence where the weapon was grabbed and fired in a split second. There was actually eight seconds in the video between the first “I’ll tase you” and the “Oh s**t, I just shot him.” To the simplest of minds, even in the heat of the moment, eight seconds would seem to be enough time to realise the mistake. Already we are being fed an explanation similar to a narrative, which we have heard during the Chauvin murder trial for the death of George Floyd, — that the excessive force is especially inexcusable in light of the comparative lack of severity of the criminal conduct. In the case of Daunte Wright, that argument seems even less persuasive.
The shooting is described as an “accidental discharge” by Police Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department. According to Chief Gannon, officers pulled over the
20-year- victim for a traffic violation and tried to detain him after learning he had an outstanding court-issued arrest warrant. According to the Associated Press, Daunte had a warrant out for his arrest after he failed to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during a run-in with Minneapolis police last June. As he was being handcuffed, Wright, who was unarmed but did not appear to have yet been fully frisked by the officers, freed himself from the grasp of police and got into the driver’s seat of his vehicle, and the struggle and shooting immediately followed. The car rolled for several blocks until it hit another vehicle. Wright was pronounced dead at the scene. The initial details are somewhat troubling. According to the mother, shortly after being pulled over, Daunte called asking her for information regarding the car’s insurance She said police had pulled him over for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.
The fatal shooting comes amid the second week of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd during his arrest last May. In a video of the arrest, Chauvin is seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until he became unconscious. Folks are still trying to come to grips as to how this seasoned veteran could make such a mistake, seeing that there is a notable difference in weight between gun and taser, and are distinguishable from each other by grip and feel. Tasers have a different type of holster, and an LED control panel lights up when you take the safety off on a Taser. According to law enforcement experts, the gun should be holstered on the officer’s dominant side of the body, and the Taser should be placed on the non-dominant side. The officer responsible for the shooting death has resigned, and so has the Police Chief.
Once again, America is faced with the slaying of another young Black man at the hands of those sworn to Protect and Serve. This senseless death also brings attention to how badly the country needs to reimagine policing and public safety. Why are people of colour the target? When will it cease? Who must Blacks appease? Will we ever see equality? Or will it always be evasive? Riots, looting and protests have done little to nothing; it’splain to see. The war is on, we must fight it using a new strategy. A luta continua—The struggle continues.
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