Rioting, looting erupt in Twin Cities for second night after police shooting

So much for the four-county curfew. Rioting and looting erupted in the city of Brooklyn Center last night despite the 7 pm stay-at-home order in the Twin Cities, starting with a demonstration at the police department over the police shooting of Daunte Wright. Not even the firing of the city manager earlier over his support of due process for the officer involved kept the crowd from refusing to disperse:

By shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, police began to warn demonstrators, who still numbered in the hundreds, that they were in violation of curfew. Officers began to move toward the fence in formation and issued orders to disperse.

Authorities fired multiple rounds of tear gas, along with rubber bullets and flash grenades. Protesters dispersed from areas hit by tear gas were regrouping and retaliating by throwing water bottles and launching fireworks. Later, lines of police in riot gear pushed groups of protesters away from the station. At a strip mall near the police station, looters broke into several businesses, including a Dollar Tree store where flames were later spotted.

At a 12:30 a.m. Tuesday news conference, Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said that 40 people were arrested Monday night at the Brooklyn Center protest. Some were booked into the Hennepin County jail, some cited and released, he said. Several law enforcement officers suffered minor injuries from thrown debris; no protester injuries were reported, he said.

Looting was “sporadic,” the police said at the same press conference. However, the curfew was supposed to prevent it altogether:

Law enforcement leaders at the news conference described looting as limited and sporadic. In Minneapolis, 13 people were arrested, according to Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Amelia Huffman. Of those arrests, four were for burglaries related to looting, two were suspects in shots-fired incidents, six were for curfew violations and one was on an outstanding warrant. Five businesses, including the E. Lake Street Target, a liquor store and a shoe store, were targeted by looting, she said. She described the damage from looting as “limited.” …

Late Monday, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said that at least one person had been arrested on suspicion of looting at the E. Lake Street Target, which was heavily damaged in riots after George Floyd’s death, then remodeled.

More than a million residents were told to remain in their houses last evening, most of whom are nowhere near either Brooklyn Center or Lake Street. If this is the result, police had better expect a lot less compliance in the outer ‘burbs in the days ahead. Imposing a curfew on Dakota County over far-away Brooklyn Center was ridiculous, especially if law enforcement resources aren’t deployed to protect the obvious targets of looters and rioters.

The city released the identity of the officer who shot Wright — Kim Potter, a 25-year veteran of the force. At a press conference yesterday, police chief Tim Gannon defended the move to assign Potter to administrative duty rather than immediately fire her, while mayor Mike Elliott sounded much less supportive of Gannon’s due-process argument. Later in the day, city manager Curt Boganey supported Gannon — and got cashiered for it

Gannon’s likely to be next, the Star Tribune reports:

Brooklyn Center leaders were poised to fire the city’s police chief Monday evening, following the police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man Sunday afternoon that touched off a night of unrest in the city.

At an emergency afternoon meeting, the City Council voted to give authority over the police department to the mayor’s office and to fire City Manager Curt Boganey, who’d been with the city since 2005, Council Member Dan Ryan said during a virtual council workshop.

This wasn’t exactly a Profile In Courage by the city council, however:

At a virtual council workshop, Council Member Kris Lawrence-Anderson said she voted to remove the city manager because she feared for her property and retaliation by protestors if she had voted to keep him.

“He was doing a great job. I respect him dearly,” she said. “I didn’t want repercussions at a personal level.”

The fate of Potter seems just as clear. How a 25-year veteran mistook a firearm for a Taser is tough to explain, unless training and tactics are woefully deficient in the Brooklyn Center PD. Andy McCarthy pointed out last night just how rarely that happens, and how it’s almost certain to result in prosecution:

The instances are statistically negligible: A 2020 analysis claimed there had been 16 such cases (though a couple appear to be dubious) over 20 years, during which there have been millions of taser uses by police officers. A 2015 Christian Science Monitor report related a 2012 study that documented nine such cases at that time, out of over 2.7 million taser uses since 2001.

It is an extraordinarily rare occurrence, and an excruciatingly tragic one when it results in death or severe injury. …

To avoid the minute potential of confusion, cops are typically trained to carry the taser on the weak-hand side (the firearm is on the strong side). The aforementioned 2015 report recounts that in some of the documented cases of mistaken discharge, the taser was carried on the same strong-hand side as, and thus close to, the firearm.

This kind of mistake does not happen with anything close to the frequency that would allow portraying it as a reasonable or excusable error. That is a separate issue from the question of whether it can be an honest mistake. It can, but it is grossly negligent and criminally actionable, nonetheless.

Potter had better get a really good lawyer immediately. And the city of Brooklyn Center had better start putting some money away for the inevitable wrongful-death settlement to come.