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Brooklyn Center mayor: Police don’t necessarily need guns for making traffic stops

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The mayor of Brooklyn Center, Minn., said Tuesday he believes police officers do not need to be armed for every traffic stop following the shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

“I don’t believe that officers necessarily, uh, have weapons, uh, you know, uh…every time they’re making a traffic stop or engaged in situations that don’t necessarily call for weapons,” Mayor Mike Elliot told reporters during a press conference. 

“We know that there are other, many other jurisdictions, even around the world where that is not necessarily the case, that is not needed,” he added.

Elliot’s comments come after officer Kimberly Potter shot and killed Wright after appearing to mistake her service weapon for her Taser during a traffic stop on Sunday. 

Potter, a 26-year vet, can be heard yelling, “Taser! Taser!” on bodycam footage in a warning to a fellow officer who was struggling with Wright after he broke free while in the process of being handcuffed and dove back into his vehicle. A few seconds later she fired, only to realize she had grabbed her sidearm instead of her Taser.

Wright sped off but crashed his vehicle a short while later before succumbing to his wound. His death touched off new rioting in the city and nearby Minneapolis, where former officer Derek Chauvin is currently on trial for the murder of George Floyd. 

Potter, along with Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, have resigned.

Reaction to Elliot’s suggestion about disarmed police during some traffic stops drew a mix of outrage and mockery online, with at least one social media user posting a link to a Fox News story regarding New Mexico State Trooper Darian Jarrott who was shot and killed recently during a routine traffic stop.

“Officer Darian Jarrott, who had three small children and was expecting a fourth one this year, was sworn in as a New Mexico State Police Officer in July 2015,” the user wrote with the Fox News headline: “New Mexico police officer shot in the head during routine stop in February, new video shows.”

On Tuesday, Brandon Tatum of “The Officer Tatum” podcast, used the murder of Jarrott as an example to break down an incident between two Virginia police officers and a black Army lieutenant in December to explain why the officers were right to use force against him.

Tatum, himself a former police officer in Tucson, Ariz., noted that initially, the interaction between Jarrott and the driver who shot and killed him began innocently enough before it suddenly escalated when the driver exited his vehicle with a rifle.

“After you watch that, and you can see how things can escalate very quickly, without warning,” Tatum said, going on to analyze officers’ actions when stopping Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, who is black and Latino. When Nazario refused several commands to exit his vehicle following a stop for a moving violation, he was pepper-sprayed and forced to the ground by officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.

Gutierrez was summarily fired for allegedly breaking department policy, though he had contacted the city police chief to confer with him about giving Nazario a choice of being let go or arrested for obstructing justice.

Jon Dougherty

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