The renovation is likely to give Mayor Mike Elliott the power to fire police chiefs and police officers, a legal expert told The Washington Post.
“At such a difficult time, this will streamline things and create a chain of command and control,”
An hour later, Elliott announced that the Brooklyn Center had fired its city manager, Kurt Boganey, and replaced him with the city’s deputy mayor, Reggie Edwards.
“I will continue to work hard to ensure good governance at all levels of government,” Elliott tweeted about the change.
Earlier in the day, Elliott and Bogani publicly parted ways over the discipline of the police officer involved, who was identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Authorities said Potter accidentally fired his gun at Wright when she wanted to use a Taser.
“All employees working for the city of Brooklyn Center have the right to due process in terms of discipline,” Bogani told reporters. “This employee will get a proper trial, and that’s really all I can say today.”
Elliott, meanwhile, said the officer should be fired.
“Let me be very clear: My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of other people’s lives in our profession,” he told a news conference. “So I fully support the release of the employee from her duties.”
At the Brooklyn Center, the city governor – who has administrative power over municipal officials – has been hired and fired by the city council. However, the council meeting on Monday was not broadcast or broadcast as usual, so the results of the council’s vote on Boganei’s dismissal were not immediately clear.
Elliott, Edwards and City Attorney Troy Gilchrist did not respond to requests for comment.
Approximately 30,000 people live in Brooklyn Center, a city just 10 miles north of the courthouse, where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was tried for murder in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. In the 24 hours after Wright’s death, pressure on local leaders intensified rapidly as residents – still mourning Floyd – mourned again and demanded change.
Police Chief Tim Gannon released an unedited video of the fatal meeting for members of the media and community gathered at the Brooklyn City Hall on Monday. One attendee asked, “Why do police officers in the United States continue to kill young black men and young black women with a far, far, far higher percentage than white people?”
“I have no answer to that question,” said Gannon, who also said she wanted to talk to the officer before she was punished.
Brooklyn Center is what is known as a charter city, which gives it “incredibly broad power to act,” said David Schultz, a Minnesota legal scholar and expert in state and local law.
Monday’s unusual actions put the city in unexplored territory, he said. “We’re looking at something incredibly unique, what’s going on here.”
The city’s charter – its guiding document – includes a provision allowing the council to hand over power to police to the mayor during a crisis. It reads: “In the event of a public danger or emergency, the mayor may, with the consent of the Council, take command of the police, maintain order and enforce the law.”
“I think the purpose of the ordinance is to replace the chain of command so that the mayor, not the chief of police, becomes [authority] to run the police department, ”Schultz said.
Schultz said he was not aware of any state statute that would prevent the council from delegating that power, and that it appeared to be a constitutional provision. This, he added, would allow Elliott to fire police officers, pending any provisions against such actions in the city’s collective agreement with the department or in state labor law.
Even then, the mayor can still fire an officer, Schultz said, but he can successfully sue and force the city to pay for settlement.
There is also a noticeable omission in the charter, he said: It does not specify the duration of Elliott’s new body, potentially leaving it to the “mayor’s discretion.”
“We don’t have a black letter or a four-square answer on this one,” Schultz said.