Elected officials in the Minneapolis suburb where a police officer shot dead Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April have approved a plan to dramatically change policing practices.
The Brooklyn Center city council voted 4-1 on Saturday for a resolution to create new divisions of unarmed civilian employees to handle non-moving traffic violations and respond to mental health crises.
The resolution also limits situations in which officers can make arrests and requires more de-escalation efforts by police before using deadly force.
A new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention is envisioned, to oversee efforts on community health and public safety, led by a director with public health expertise.
The city attorney has said adopting the resolution isn’t a final action, but commits the city to change.
Several police groups have raised concerns, saying parts of the resolution conflict with state law and will put public safety at risk. No police officers spoke at Saturday’s meeting.
The three-hour session included testimony from Wright’s family as well as the family of Kobe Dimock-Heisler, also killed by Brooklyn Center police.
“I truly believe if this was implemented prior to 11 April, our son would still be with us today,” said Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother.
Police have said Wright, who was Black, was pulled over for expired tags but they sought to arrest him after discovering an outstanding warrant. The warrant was for failure to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and had a gun without a permit during an encounter in June.
The city’s police chief, who has stepped down, has said he believed Office Kim Potter, who is white, meant to use her Taser in the 11 April stop. Body camera video shows her shouting “Taser!” multiple times before firing her gun. The shooting ignited unrest. Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter and resigned.
Dozens of citizens spoke. In one tense moment, a man said he didn’t agree with having unarmed people stop drivers. He then turned to Wright and said: “Your son was killed not because of a traffic stop in my mind. But because he had warrants.”
The man was drowned out by boos.
The resolution “will establish a new north star for our community, one that will keep all of us safe”, said the mayor, Mike Elliott. “It says that we, as your elected leaders, are committing ourselves. And that you can hold us accountable for achieving those goals.”
Council members Marquita Butler, April Graves and Dan Ryan joined Elliott in voting for the resolution. Council member Kris Lawrence-Anderson voted against it, saying the council hadn’t taken enough time to weigh the proposal, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota called the proposal “an important first move” in changing policing.