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Law enforcement experts believe lack of training led to Daunte Wright shooting death

Posted at 8:01 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 20:01:54-04

CAPE CORAL — Following the officer-involved shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, MN, Fox 4 asked the question: How could an officer grab her handgun instead of her stun gun?

We spoke with two law enforcement experts who reviewed the body camera footage and believe the shooting boils down to a lack of training.

In a press conference Monday, former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon described the first problem he saw in the footage.

"It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet," asid Gannon.

On the body camera footage, you hear what sounds like shock from Officer Kim Potter.

“I just shot him," said Potter in the video.

We spoke with former Police Chief Walt Zalisko, who believes that, in the heat of the moment, the officer panicked.

"It was an unfortunate accident, and that’s all it was. There was nothing more there, and that’s why training is very important," said Zalisko.

Forensics Professor David Thomas at Florida Gulf Coast University agreed.

"The taser, if it’s just an item that’s on the belt that you never practice with, and I mean never practice drawing, never practice the simulations, then there is going to be, there is a problem," said Thomas.

But Thomas pointed out what he calls another crucial mistake officers made earlier in the footage.

"Tactically, the mistake they made was leaving the door open, because it gave him easy access to be able to get in the car and drive," said Thomas.

Since Wright’s death, there have been protests in the streets of Brooklyn Center. Thomas said that is the sign of a community that doesn’t trust its police department, and that’s something the police there are going to have to work on.

“Cops are human beings, they’re going to make mistakes. The question is, what has that agency or the organization done to garner trust in that community so that everything doesn’t turn into a riot?” said Thomas.

Thomas said, there are methods police use to make sure they can tell the difference between a stun gun and a hand gun in the heat of the moment. They wear them on opposite sides of the uniform, and the stun gun is usually brightly colored.

But ultimately, Thomas said under stress, officers fall back on their instincts, and he said that can only be changed through training.