14 Apr 2021

Minnesota police chief and officer who fatally shot black motorist both resign

8:10 pm on 14 April 2021

The resignation of a police chief and of an officer who shot dead a black motorist in Minnesota have failed to end unrest over Sunday's killing.

A protester holds a sign reading "Justice for Daunte Wright" during a rally outside the Brooklyn Center police station to protest the death of Daunte Wright who was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on 13 April 2021.

A rally outside the Brooklyn Center police station after Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a police officer. Photo: AFP

The pair said she shot Daunte Wright accidentally, having mistakenly drawn her gun instead of her Taser.

Police Chief Tim Gannon and Officer Kim Potter quit the Brooklyn Center force two days after the death of Daunte Wright sparked two nights of unrest.

Despite the resignation fresh clashes between police and protesters erupted for a third night.

It happened in a suburb of Minneapolis, a city already on edge for the ongoing trial of an ex-police officer accused of murdering George Floyd last year.

On Tuesday night bottles and other projectiles were thrown at police headquarters and officers responded by firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

More than 60 people were arrested, Minnesota State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer told reporters.

Another demonstration broke out over the killing in Portland, Oregon, with about 100 protesters marching on the Portland Police Association Building.

Flames were seen coming out of the side of the police building about an hour later. The Portland Police Bureau declared the gathering a riot.

Portland was the centre of mass demonstrations last year, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Speaking to reporters earlier, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said that he had appointed 19-year veteran Tony Gruenig to take over for Tim Gannon.

On Monday, Gannon had said that the shooting of Wright appeared to be an "accidental discharge" after Potter mistook her service pistol for a stun gun.

"I appreciate the officer stepping down," the mayor said, adding that he hoped her leaving would "bring some calm to the community".

Elliott expressed sympathy with protesters, who he said were motivated by fear rather than lawlessness.

"What I saw was young people, many of whom looked - all of them look like Daunte," said Elliott, who is also African American. "And I could feel their pain. I could feel their anger. I can feel their fear."

Wright was pulled over for an expired tag on his car license plate. Family members and advocates say he was racially profiled.

Police released body camera footage on Monday showing Wright fleeing from officers after they told him he was being arrested for an outstanding warrant.

As Wright re-enters his car, Officer Potter is heard shouting "Taser" several times before firing a shot, apparently by mistake.

In a one-sentence resignation letter to city officials Potter wrote that she "loved every minute of being a police officer... but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately".

Protestors gather in Washington Square Park in New York April 12, 2021 during a protest after the 20yo was fatally shot.

There have been several nights of clashes between police and protesters following Wright's death. Photo: AFP

Wright's father, Aubrey Wright, told ABC News that he does not believe that Potter - a 26-year police veteran who trained other officers - mistook her gun for her Taser.

"I lost my son. He's never coming back. I can't accept that. A mistake? That doesn't even sound right. This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can't accept that," he said.

- BBC / Reuters