ROCHESTER, Minn. — The fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, on Sunday, April 11, in Brooklyn Center, Minn., is a reminder of a 2002 incident in which a Rochester police officer said he accidentally shot a man in the back after intending to use his Taser.
Christofar Atak survived that 2002 encounter, but suffered injuries from being shot in the lung, according to his attorney William French.
Wright was fatally shot Sunday by Brooklyn Center Police officer Kim Potter during a traffic stop. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon on Monday said Potter mistakenly fired her firearm instead of her Taser.
Both Potter and Gannon resigned from the police force on Tuesday.
Much like Sunday's incident, in 2002, Rochester Officer Gregory Siem pulled what he believed was his stun gun and fired at Atak after a struggle. The gun, however, was his service revolver.
During the trial in that case, attorney French brought a Taser and Glock, a semi-automatic pistol used by police, to court for Judge David Doty to examine. In a court order, Doty said that although the weapons may appear similar, there are significant differences between the two that should prevent an officer from confusing them. For one, the Glock is heavier than a Taser.
Additionally, Siem had to disengage two mechanisms on his security holster in order to draw the Glock, precautions that didn’t exist for the Taser. The Taser also has a red laser sight guide that appears when the safety is released.
“These two things are just significantly different ... I don’t know how you could confuse them,” French said.
A civil suit was settled three year after the shooting for $900,000.
Although officers are typically trained to carry stun guns, such as Tasers, on their nondominant side to avoid confusing them with a firearm, there have been several instances in which officers say they have shot someone with the wrong weapon.