How Does An Officer Grab A Taser Over A Gun?

Apr 12, 2021, 11:31 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A local expert in use of force weighed in on the shooting of Daunte Wright, a young Black man who was pulled over for having expired tags in Minnesota.

The traffic stop took place in a Minneapolis suburb called Brooklyn Center Sunday afternoon.

Officers said they found warrants for Wright for a misdemeanor possession of a firearm after he failed to show up for court.

Brooklyn Center officers tried arresting him, but we wiggled free.

That’s when they called for a taser, but something else happened.

“Oh (expletive)! I just shot him,” said one of the officers.

“It’s a really unfortunate mistake,” said former Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt.

Watt pointed out that tasers are often stored away from where firearms are on officers. Reaching for the wrong weapon and not realizing it points to the officer’s cognitive delay.

“That goes on up here,” Watt said as he pointed to his head. “That has to do with the heightened anxiety, the heightened fear and the brain’s ability to discern things under stress and pressure.”

There were warrants out for Wright for misdemeanor charges, but Watt said that doesn’t matter. 

“They have lawful authority to take them into custody, but they know that they’re going to get a fight,” said Watt.

With more police-involved shootings or incidents being recorded, he said it offers more insight into what happened, but also creates pressure for all police officers. 

“Can we find bullies in law enforcement? Yeah, we can. Can we find timid people in law enforcement? Yeah, we can. They’re both bad. They’re both equally dangerous to the other officers. They’re both equally dangerous to the department. It’s a fact of life. We don’t always find out about the people we’re hiring in law enforcement until the later days,” said Watt.

So what’s next?

Minnesota agencies will conduct an investigation into what happened and will decide whether or not the officer that shot Wright should be criminally charged.

Watt said a charge that comes to mind in Utah would be negligent homicide.

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How Does An Officer Grab A Taser Over A Gun?