‘It’s just unbelievable that happened’: De Blasio weighs in on Daunte Wright shooting

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
Photo courtesy of the Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio has shown public support for Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old victim of a police shooting in Minnesota. On social media and in his morning media events, de Blasio has expressed that a “full investigation” into the ‘mistaken’ use of a gun, instead of a taser, needs to happen and the family needs justice.

Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, in what’s been  described as “an accidental discharge.” The city was already poised to be plunged into chaos because of the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minnesota officer charged with George Floyd’s death.

“I think the shock we’re all feeling from what happened in Minnesota is just unconscionable, it’s unbelievable that at a traffic stop where there’s a number of officers around. There’s just no reason in the world to use a gun, and it’s just unbelievable that happened,” said de Blasio.

Officer Kim Potter, who fatally shot Wright, had been working as an officer for 26 years. The New York Times, reported that both Potter and the city’s police chief, Tim Gannon, have decided to resign.

De Blasio said anyone who doesn’t know the difference between a taser and a gun shouldn’t be an officer to begin with, and that the country is still “horrifying” in how it polices Black people.

Many countered that de Blasio’s righteousness, even with his latest slew of policing and criminal justice reforms, doesn’t seem to extend to members of the NYPD who have also shot and killed people at traffic stops and other situations in New York City.

For instance, last week on April 9, 2021, Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark decided not to prosecute officers in the fatal shootings of Antonio Williams and NYPD Detective Brian Mulkeen. During a “gun-stop,” said the DA’s office, on September 29, 2019, Mulkeen shot Williams, who had a gun on him, and cops shot Mulkeen while he was struggling with Williams. 

Mulkeen’s death was labeled under “friendly fire,” or in other words, an accident.

De Blasio said he can’t speak for the Bronx DA, but he believes that the incidents were very different and more “complex” than the Wright shooting.

“This was a singular tragedy that unfolded in seconds and left two men dead and two families with a lifetime of sorrow. It stemmed from the proliferation of guns and gun violence,” said Clark in a statement. “I send my condolences to the loved ones and friends of the two deceased young men, who deserved a thorough, transparent investigation into facts leading up to their deaths.”

Or, as pointed out in de Blasio’s Twitter thread, the case of Allan Feliz from that same year. Feliz, on October 17, 2019, was shot in the chest during a traffic stop for an alleged failure to wear a seatbelt. A subsequent special investigation by Attorney General Letitia James concluded there was “insufficient evidence” to prove “the use of deadly physical force” could be prosecuted in criminal court.

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