[4/14/21] – Public Outraged as Black Man Shot and Killed By Police During a Traffic Stop in Minnesota

On Sunday, April 11th, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by police officer, Kim  Potter, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Prior to the shooting, Wright had been pulled over for having expired registration tags. During the stop, the officers discovered that there was a warrant out for his arrest, which was issued earlier this month for missing a court appearance related to two misdemeanor charges. According to the police chief of Brooklyn Center Police Department, Tim Gannon, Wright tried to step back into his vehicle, which resulted in a struggle with officers. Body camera footage later showed Potter pointing a handgun and shouting “taser,” before yelling expletives and declaring  that she “just shot him” to the other officers on the scene. It is believed that Wright, who was accompanied by a female, travelled several blocks before striking another vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner for Hennepin County later released a preliminary report ruling that Wright’s death was a homicide as he had died from a gunshot wound to his chest. At a press conference, Chief Gannon stated that he believed that Potter, a 26-year-old veteran, meant to discharge the taser, and not her service weapon. Potter was subsequently placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, as the mayor and other officials demanded that she be fired from her position. Following the news of the shooting, hundreds of people filled the streets to protest Wright’s killing. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey moved to declare a state of emergency as well as impose a curfew after demonstrators clashed with the police. It is reported that forty people were arrested for violating curfew and rioting. On Tuesday, April 13th, it was announced by various news outlets that both Potter and Chief Gannon had resigned from their positions with the police department.  The Wright family has since then hired Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney who handled the George Floyd case, to represent them.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.

The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.



  • Writing: Explain how Daunte Wright’s killing highlights the racial disparities found in traffic stops and renews the calls for police reform. 
  • Debate: Brooklyn Center Police Department Police Chief, Tim Gannon, stated that he believed that the officer, Kim Porter, accidentally discharged her service weapon, instead of a taser. Do you believe that the shooting was accidental?
  • Poll: Black drivers are more likely to be stopped by police officers than white drivers. (Agree or Disagree).
  • Short Answer: Discuss the importance of body camera footage and how it is used to promote transparency. 

Cover Image: © iStockphoto.com/YingYang

Which component of the criminal justice system would you like to see more coverage of in future Lecture Sparks?

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