The police officer who shot dead 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop at a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday has been identified as Kimberly Potter, a veteran of 26 years of the force.
The identity of the 48-year-old woman officer, who “accidentally” shot the Black man, was released on Monday night by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Ms Potter is currently on administrative leave following the fatal shooting.
The officer got her Minnesota police officer’s license in 1995 when she was 22 and was later inducted into the Brooklyn Center Police Department, serving on the force’s negotiation team, reported Star Tribune.
Protests erupted and anger flared once again over the killing of the unarmed Black man, about 10 miles away from where George Floyd was pinned down by former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with murdering Floyd.
Authorities were forced to impose a curfew overnight in the Twin Cities area and fired rubber bullets and teargas at angry protesters.
The 20-year-old father of a two-year-old son was driving with his girlfriend when he was pulled over by officers for having an air freshener dangling from his rear-view mirror. It is an offence in Minnesota to have anything attached to the driving mirror.
Brooklyn Center Police Department released the body cam footage from the incident that showed Wright being questioned and shot dead amid the struggle as he re-entered the vehicle while officers asked him to stop.
Police chief Tim Gannon said she mistook her gun for a taser.
The footage showed the officer, warning as “Taser, Taser”, as police are trained to do when using the non-lethal device. But ended up firing with a gun and heard instantly saying: “Holy s***, I just shot him.”
Ms Potter is married to a former Fridley police officer and has two adult sons.
In August 2019, she was among the first responders to arrive at the fatal shooting of Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who died after he allegedly ran at officers with a knife.
She instructed the two officers involved in the to “exit the residence, get into separate squad cars, turn off their body worn cameras, and to not talk to each other,” reported the newspaper. The officers were not charged and their actions were found to be justified.
The head of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said she was on duty on Sunday to field train a new officer.
“It’s completely devastating,” he said. “She is just a good person, always willing to help out.”
The killing has been condemned by activists and politicians, including Minnesota governor Tim Walz, who said that it was like George Floyd’s death had “repeated itself.”
The Hennepin County medical examiner on Monday evening said Wright’s death was caused by a gunshot wound in the chest and ruled out homicide. However, the examiner did not determine intent or criminality.
Less than 24 hours after his death, Wright’s mother Katie Wright delivered a striking eulogy for her slain child and she praised him as father and son.
“My heart is literally broken in 1,000 pieces. I miss him so much, and it’s only been a day,” she said.
She added: “He was my life, he was my son and I can never get that back. Because of a mistake? Because of an accident?”