Sunday’s fatal shooting in a Minneapolis suburb is the 18th time in 20 years that police have used a handgun when they say they intend to use a Taser, according to a force researcher.
By comparison, police kill about 1,000 people each year in incidents, including shootings, according to Campaign Zero, an organization focused on ending police violence.
Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter resigned on Tuesday after a second night of riots followed the shooting of Down Wright, the black driver she and police had stopped. Tim Gannon, the police chief, also resigned.
CORRY BUSH REQUIRES COP “WILL KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WEAPONS, TASSER, IF DOWNWRIGHT IS NOT A BLACK BOY”
Researchers and law enforcement veterans say it’s difficult to confuse the two weapons because Tasers are usually bright yellow in color and lighter than pistols, and because most officers wear them on opposite sides of their belts to avoid confusion.
The video from the video of the camera body shows Wright getting out of the car and then returning while the police try to pull him back. Mrs. Potter can be seen pointing a gun at Mr. Wright and repeating over and over that she will use her Taser.
The car then accelerates and she can be heard saying, “I just shot him.” Officials said Ms. Potter fired a shot into Mr. Wright’s chest.
The strongest evidence of real confusion is when a police officer fires only one shot, as is the case in Minnesota, said Greg Meyer, a researcher on the use of force. Officers are trained to fire several shots with their pistols.
“In a Taser situation, he can only fire one at a time, so when we have one of these cases of gun confusion, it’s kind of a big clue,” said Mr Meyer, a retired Los Angeles police captain who has worked as an expert witness testifying on behalf of police officers.
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Mr Mayer said that in all 18 cases of Taser’s confusion he found, police officers withdrew their pistol with their dominant hand. That’s why he recommends that police departments train officers to draw their weapons with their dominant hand and their Tasers with their retreat. Employees may place their holsters in a holster in such a way that they can only be pulled out naturally with the withdrawn hand.
“The way to stop this from happening is to get the strong hand out of the draw,” Mr Mayer said.
Before resigning, Mr Gannon said Brooklyn Center staff were trained to carry guns on their dominant side and Tasers on their weak side, like many other police departments in the country. The new boss did not respond to requests for comment.
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