Apr 12, 2021

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Officials Press Conference on Police Shooting of Daunte Wright Transcript April 12

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Officials Press Conference on Police Shooting of Daunte Wright Transcript April 12
RevBlogTranscriptsBrooklyn Center, Minnesota Officials Press Conference on Police Shooting of Daunte Wright Transcript April 12

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Mayor Mike Elliott and police officials held a press conference on April 12, 2021 to address the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright. The police chief called the shooting an “accidental discharge.” Read the transcript of the news briefing here.

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Mike Elliott: (00:00)
We’re going to go ahead and get started. My name is Mike Elliott. I’m the mayor of Brooklyn Center. Yesterday, just shortly before 2:00 PM, the City of Brooklyn Center Police had a police involved shooting at the 3,600 block of Orchard Avenue. And in that event, a Brooklyn Center police officer discharged their weapon leading to the death of one individual. The chief is going to get into the details of the event, but I will say that one officer discharged their weapon and they struck the driver of the vehicle. And following that, the vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle.

Mike Elliott: (00:59)
The Brooklyn Center police officers who were present at the scene and who were attempting to apprehend the driver did respond with an attempt at saving the young man’s life. However, the young man died at the scene. Our Brooklyn Center officers do wear body cams. And so, there is body camera footage of the event. And we do plan on releasing the body camera footage today. In fact, we plan to do so here.

Mike Elliott: (01:45)
But I want to say that our hearts are aching right now. We are in pain right now, and we recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worst time. We recognize that this is happening at a time when our community, when all of America. Indeed, all of the world is watching our community. That we are all collectively devastated. And we have been for over a year now, by the killing of George Floyd. And that we continue to be distressed as we go through the Derek Chauvin trial. So having a police involved shooting happen in our community and killing a young man is heartbreaking and just unfathomable. And so, our entire community is filled with grief at yesterday’s police involved shooting that led to the killing of Dante Wright, a 20 year old, young, African-American male. My hearts go out to Dante’s family and to all those who are impacted by this tragedy in our community, in the world over. And while we await additional information from the BCA, which is leading this investigation, we continue to support members of our community, as they gather peacefully amid our calls for transparency and accountability. Let me be clear, we will get to the bottom of this. We will do all that is within our power to make sure that justice is done for Dante Wright. We’re going to continue to meet with community leaders and to hear their voices. In fact, we did that this morning. The chief and city council members and other elected officials from the state and city staff, city manager. We had a meeting earlier with our community, to be able to hear their voices in this time. And we’re also going to continue to conduct press conferences and share information with the public.

Mike Elliott: (04:23)
As I stated, we do plan to show the body camera footage. We’re going to conduct a community press conference following this as well, so that we can talk directly with leaders of our community and organizations, and share this information with them as well. We’re going to also be providing some crisis counseling and mental health resources to all of our community members who may need and desire such services. And our collective community is grieving every single life. Every member of our community is important to us. And so, the events, like yesterday, are tragic and they take each and every one of us, they take a part of us, as we experience these traumatic events. Just being exposed to it. And I’m sure you’re all feeling the aftermath of the weightiness of what we’re all feeling collectively. And so, I’m going to invite Chief Tim Gannon to come up and he’s going to provide you a briefing about the details of what transpired yesterday and then we’ll stay for questions.

Tim Gannon: (05:56)
Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Tim Gannon. It’s G-A-N-N-O-N. I’m the chief of police here in Brooklyn Center. I’ve been the chief for approximately five years and I’ve been a police officer in the city for 27. Today, I will be releasing the body-worn footage worn by the officer involved in the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened on Sunday afternoon.

Tim Gannon: (06:20)
I have watched a video of myself and there’s nothing I can say to lessen the pain of Mr. Wright’s family, friends, loved ones for that feeling of loss that they must have. That pain is shared by the community. And also all those involved in the incident. What I can do is convey my deepest sympathies to the Wright family and be transparent with the information I’m aware of at this time. That will include showing a video portion from the point of deadly force used by the officer, as well as the officer’s immediate reaction after the use of deadly force. I caution everybody as you watch this, that this will be graphic and unedited. Could I have that video start please?

Speaker 1: (07:04)
Someone could turn the lights off?

Speaker 2: (07:06)
Just a moment here. Okay.

Speaker 3: (07:13)
Will it be on both screens?

Tim Gannon: (07:13)
It should be on both screens.

Speaker 3: (07:14)
Thank you, sir.

Speaker 4: (08:01)
[inaudible 00:08:01] under arrest.

Speaker 5: (08:01)
Do you have a warrant?

Speaker 4: (08:01)
I do have a warrant.

Speaker 5: (08:16)
[inaudible 00:08:16].

Speaker 6: (08:19)
[inaudible 00:08:19] taser, taser, taser. Holy shit. That’s a child.

Speaker 5: (08:19)
Oh, boy.

Speaker 6: (08:19)

Tim Gannon: (08:35)
Can you turn the lights back on, please?

Speaker 7: (08:40)
[inaudible 00:08:40] terminate this officer?

Tim Gannon: (08:43)
As you can hear, the officer while struggling with Mr. Wright shots, “Taser, taser” several times. That is part of the officer’s training prior to deploying a teaser, which is a less lethal device. That is done to make her partners aware as well as the subject that a taser deployment will be eminent/ during this encounter, however, the officer drew their handgun instead of their taser. For informational purposes, we train with our handguns on our dominant side and taser on our weak side. So if you’re right-handed, you carry your firearm on your right side and your carry your teaser on the left.

Tim Gannon: (09:22)
This is done purposefully and is trained. As I watched the video and listen to the officer’s commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. This appears to me from what I viewed in the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright. I’ve asked the BCA to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting and death. Once they are completed, I expect they will submit their findings independent of me to the appropriate authorities, the appropriate attorneys, that will look and review this case. I’m also stressing that I do hope for the community to be patient and allow this criminal investigation to be completed as thoroughly as possible. I believe Mr. Wright deserves this, as do all involved.

Tim Gannon: (10:17)
The officer is currently on administrative leave. I’ll make a short comment about what happened last night to our community, a community that I’ve been a part of for 27 years. I’ve seen some of the worst damage to the city I’ve ever seen in those years. Again, peaceful protesting, expressing yourself. We fully support that, but the ravaging of our businesses, the looting of our stores, the destruction to our pharmacies, we can not tolerate that. I’m hoping that the community will have this level of transparency and know that this is being investigated by the correct authorities, which is a BCA. Unfortunately they’re not here today, but they are handling the investigation. And I have very little information besides what I’ve just given to you because of-

Tim Gannon: (11:03)
[inaudible 00:11:01] and I have very little information besides what I’ve just given to you because they are handling that investigation. Mr. Mayor, do you have any comments you want to make?

Mike Elliott: (11:19)
All right, so we’re going to open it up for questions, but I just want to reiterate that obviously this is deeply tragic and we’re going to do everything that we can to ensure justice is done, to ensure that our communities are made whole. And with respect to the events last night, obviously there were folks in their community who were grieving, who showed up initially at the location where Daunte Wright was killed and we’re gathering. And obviously later on, as the night went on and unfolded, there were a series of events that led to an escalation in the protest later on into the evening. Later on, I did issue a curfew, which was in place until 6:00 AM this morning to ensure that we’re taking steps to keep the community safe. We do want to emphasize that we believe strongly in people’s rights to gather and to express their grievance and to protest that is a fundamental American right. And we’re going to protect that right. And at the same time, we’re going to also work to protect the safety of our community. And so we’ll now open it up for questions.

Speaker 8: (13:05)
Is it going to be sent over to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for possible charges? Chief.

Tim Gannon: (13:17)
It’s far too early to know which authority is going to be prosecuting if they’re prosecution. So I don’t know how that’s going to play out. Unfortunately, the BCA normally isn’t present here during these types of conferences. But what I’ve understood is the releasing of video this early in a situation is not something that they condone. They leave it up to me to do that. And as I decided to do that, they’re not part of this conversation. They’re not part of this press conference at this time.

Speaker 8: (13:43)
Why did you decide to do this today?

Tim Gannon: (13:45)
I felt the community needed to know what happened. They needed to see it. I needed to be transparent and I wanted to be forthright. Add due respect to Daunte as well.

Speaker 9: (13:57)
Chief can you talk about what led to the traffic stop? Daunte Wright’s mother told reporters he had an air freshener hanging on his rear view mirror.

Tim Gannon: (14:06)
From what I’ve understood from the public safety briefing. There was an expired registration on the vehicle. That means the tags were expired. Upon arrival, when the officer made contact I think at that time when he walked up to the car, he discovered that there was a hanging item from the rear view mirror. So there was a contact that the officer went up there initially for attained his ID or his drivers name. And he walked back to his car and at that time he ran his name and he found out that he had a warrant. That’s why they removed him from the car and they were making a custodial arrest.

Speaker 9: (14:38)
Can you tell us more about the warrants [crosstalk 00:14:41].

Tim Gannon: (14:40)
I have very little information on the warrant, other than it was a gross misdemeanor warrant.

Speaker 9: (14:46)
Daunte’s brother tells us he didn’t know, his brother didn’t know he had a warrant for his arrest and recently missed a meeting with his probation officer.

Tim Gannon: (14:54)
That I don’t know.

Speaker 10: (14:55)
So there’s a perception, I think in the U.S. and around the world that had Daunte Wright been my color this wouldn’t have happened to him. Why is it the police officers in the United States keep killing young black men and young black women, far, far, far higher rate than they do white people?

Tim Gannon: (15:16)
I don’t have an answer to that question.

Speaker 11: (15:20)
[crosstalk 00:15:20] real here in the state of Minnesota. I can answer that question.

Speaker 12: (15:22)
Was there a gun found in the car?

Tim Gannon: (15:26)
There’s no gun that I was made aware of. I did not search the car, but I’ve not been made aware of gun in the vehicle.

Speaker 13: (15:33)
The officer is she under any type of-

Tim Gannon: (15:38)
There has been-

Speaker 13: (15:39)
… mental evaluation?

Tim Gannon: (15:40)
There has been a fair amount of social chatter in media, which I don’t normally comment on, but there was some comments on social media that she had committed suicide. That is not true. That is not true. To the best of my knowledge, she’s being taken care of right now.

Speaker 12: (15:57)
What can you tell us about this officer and how long he’s been with the department?

Tim Gannon: (15:59)
At this point in time, I will not release that information. That should be released very shortly though. I believe the BCA has a system in place where there’ll be releasing the names of all parties involved and also all their training records and all that information as far as tenure and seniority, that’ll be released shortly.

Speaker 9: (16:15)
Do you plan to step down if people call for your resignation after the actions outside of this police department last night?

Tim Gannon: (16:22)
At this point I do not.

Speaker 14: (16:24)
Chief What was happening then? What are we seeing in the video prior to the shot? You described the taser and the weapon. What was happening there?

Tim Gannon: (16:32)
I’m not in the mind of the officer. I can only see what you’re all seeing. I can couple that with some of the training that with much of the training that I’ve received, and that’s why I’m believing it to be an accidental discharge.

Speaker 14: (16:44)
But prior to that, there was some sort of activity going on. When they were trying to take him into custody.

Tim Gannon: (16:51)
It appeared to me from the video that the individual was trying to get back into his car to leave.

Speaker 15: (17:00)
How often do officers go for firearm training to try and maybe prevent something like that happening where you don’t make that kind of mistake? Is it annual training, how does that work?

Tim Gannon: (17:09)
We have numerous trainings throughout the year. We don’t try to lump it all in one group. So there’s numerous trainings where we do tactical training. We do firearms training. We do taser deployments. We have pretty thorough taser requalifications on a yearly basis. But then we also do a number of scenarios and role playing exercises as well. I can take one more question, please.

Speaker 16: (17:31)
[inaudible 00:17:31] we’re in the midst of a pandemic, why was it a priority to pull someone over for expired tags?

Tim Gannon: (17:37)
And I don’t know if that that was a priority, but it was a violation that the officer observed and initiated a traffic stop.

Reporter 2: (17:43)
Chief, are you aware that there’s a significant delay in getting tags and things of this nature from the DMV? So even people who have purchased tags are unable to get them, because there’s a two to three month backlog. Are you aware of that? And is your staff also aware of that? And have you made any type of recommendations to your staff to be mindful that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and don’t pull people over for tags particularly because there is a significant delay in getting those tags from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Are you aware of that?

Tim Gannon: (18:18)
I am aware of that.

Reporter 2: (18:18)
As chief of police?

Tim Gannon: (18:18)
I am aware of that.

Reporter 2: (18:18)
Is your staff aware of that?

Tim Gannon: (18:20)
Yes they are. That was the last question. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Speaker 15: (18:26)
Mr. Mayor, [inaudible 00:18:28] in that video the female officer clearly made a fatal mistake. She did the wrong thing. We understand she’s going to be receiving some type of counseling, but she lose her job since it’s abundantly clear that she killed someone?

Mike Elliott: (18:40)
Let me be very clear. My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession. And so I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties.

Speaker 8: (19:06)
You support her being fired?

Mike Elliott: (19:06)
I do.

Speaker 8: (19:08)

Speaker 10: (19:08)
Mr. Mayor you just said yourself, the whole world is watching the Twin Cities right now. Why weren’t police forces just looking out about what they were doing? Why weren’t they taking great precautions when they got involved incidents like this, do you have any answer to that?

Mike Elliott: (19:29)
I don’t have an answer. I have not spoken with the officers involved myself. At this point, the BCA is the one that’s in contact with those officers. And in fact, it’s the only one that’s allowed to be in contact with those officers.

Reporter 2: (19:45)
Mr. Mayor clearly, because you answered the question directly, you’ve given some thought to this idea of releasing this officer with that said, what is the process? Can she be released immediately? Does she have to go through some type of appeal process? How does that work?

Mike Elliott: (19:57)
Well, under our form of government, the city manager who’s here you can come up Kurt. He ultimately actually has control over the police department and not the mayor and over the chief. So you can comment on that. The city council also has ultimate authority over what happens in the city collectively. So the city council can take action in this regard as well. Go ahead, Mr. Boganey.

Kurt Boganey: (20:22)
Thank you. [inaudible 00:20:23].

Speaker 8: (20:23)
Can you spell your first and last name?

Kurt Boganey: (20:24)
Yeah. My name is Kurt Boganey, B-O-G-A-N-E-Y. And in response to the question about termination, all employees working for the city of Brooklyn Center are entitled to due process with respect to discipline. This employee will receive due process. And that’s really all that I can say today.

Reporter 2: (20:51)
Do you support the determination of an officer like this who has made the type of mistake that has cost a resident of yours life? Do you support the termination of this type of officer and what message are we sending here at Brooklyn Center to the rest of the world, about the valuation of Black life? Do you support the termination of this type of an officer?

Kurt Boganey: (21:18)
I understand and appreciate the comment that you made and why you said it. But if I were to answer that question, I would be contradicting what I said a moment ago, which is to say that all employees are entitled to due process. And after that due process, discipline will be determined. If I were to say anything else, I would actually be contradictory the idea of due process.

Reporter 2: (21:45)
One final question. What’s your expectation for how a significantly white police force in Brooklyn Center treats the Black and Brown members of this community? What expectation have you communicated down to the chief and to the officers under him for how they are the interface with the…

Reporter 2: (22:03)
… what’s was this under him, for how they are the interface with the vast majority, because the vast majority of this population is black and brown. How have you communicated to them to interface and to interact with people who look like me?

Kurt Boganey: (22:16)
Absolutely I’ve communicated that to the chief. I do believe that the chief concurs with the notion that every resident of Brooklyn Center must be treated fairly, must be treated equitably. The city council has been very clear in its expectations about fairness and equity. We are implementing this year an Office of Anti-racism Principles and Practices. We are hiring an equity officer in the next several weeks. The city council has provided specific direction about accountability for the police department and transparency for the police department. We’ve been providing reports to the city council-

Reporter 2: (22:52)
Talk to us about that accountability.

Kurt Boganey: (22:54)
Yes, we are providing reports to the city council about officer discipline, about information on staffs of black and brown people, or people of color in the city of Brooklyn Center. We are developing some task forces to assess if any of our policies or if any of our practices lead to disproportionate inequitable results. our objective for doing that analysis is to eliminate any inequity that occurs as a result of our practices and our policies. That has been communicated to the chief and to the police officers or the city of Brooklyn Center.

Reporter 2: (23:33)
[crosstalk 00:23:33].

Reporter 3: (23:34)
-Racial profiling that happened in this situation. We are standing in solidarity and calling for the firing of this officer. You have talked about her having due process, although Daunte Wright did not get due process in that situation. She needs to be fired immediately to send a message that this type of behavior will not be condoned within the city of Brooklyn Center.

Kurt Boganey: (23:54)
Thank you. I appreciate those comments.

Speaker 17: (23:56)
[crosstalk 00:23:56] so should an officer who can’t tell the difference between a taser and handgun, should they go out in a vehicle with both items in their car?

Kurt Boganey: (24:07)
It really wouldn’t be appropriate for me to respond to that.

Speaker 17: (24:11)
Sorry, why would it not be appropriate, sir?

Kurt Boganey: (24:13)
Because I can’t make that judgment.

Speaker 18: (24:16)
As the supervisor of the police force, were you part of the decision last night to use tear gas on our youth who were protesting yesterday?

Reporter 3: (24:23)
And rubber bullets?

Kurt Boganey: (24:24)
I was not.

Speaker 15: (24:27)
Mr. City manager, Mr. Mayor, when I asked that question about the firing of the police officer, the police chief left. What is that an indication of? Is he dealing with something perhaps more important or is that some type of silent protest? Because he left immediately.

Kurt Boganey: (24:47)
I can’t speculate.

Speaker 15: (24:48)
Mr. Mayor, do you have a comment?

Mike Elliott: (24:53)
I do not know why the … excuse me.

Speaker 15: (24:55)
Does that bother you, without knowing why, that he just walked out?

Mike Elliott: (24:59)
I do not know why the chief left. I can only speculate as to why he left it at the time that he did.

Speaker 15: (25:11)
[crosstalk 00:25:11].

Speaker 19: (25:11)
What would your speculation be?

Mike Elliott: (25:14)
I don’t have any speculation. I mean, it’s possible that the chief takes the position, perhaps similar to the city manager, that there needs to be some kind of a process or … I don’t know. I mean, I would only-

Speaker 20: (25:35)
What was the conversation between you and the chief? What was that conversation between you and the chief when you shared with the chief that you’d like to see this officer terminated? He didn’t tell us anything about the officer, how long she’s been on the force, her name, where she trained, these are questions the public deserves to know.

Mike Elliott: (25:56)
Certainly. Those conversations, I’m not … Are privileged conversation. I can’t reveal that right now. But we should be able to provide the details around the officer and her trainings and those types of details. Let me-

Speaker 21: (26:12)
What was the process last night?

Mike Elliott: (26:12)
-if you’ll just give me a second, I’m just going to check to see if … is the chief engaged currently at the moment in addressing some public safety concerns or some other matter? Is there any reason why we can’t have him answer some more questions around … Folks are asking about the officer’s training and whatnot.

Speaker 20: (26:38)
How long she’s been on the force.

Mike Elliott: (26:38)
Okay. Okay. We’re-

Speaker 22: (26:39)
[crosstalk 00:26:39] city and the chief can just walk out in the midst of a crisis.

Mike Elliott: (26:43)
So I-

Speaker 22: (26:44)
[crosstalk 00:26:44] facing. He needs to be fired too.

Speaker 23: (26:44)

Mike Elliott: (26:46)
Just to be clear, we are checking right now with the chief to see if he will come back in and stand for more questions.

Speaker 24: (26:54)
What is the protocol for when there is protestors in the city of Brooklyn Center, and also outside of the police office? What is the normal protocol? What is the process, or who decides? How does that decision happen? Then were those protocols and that process followed last night?

Mike Elliott: (27:15)
All right. I will have the city manager and the chief speak on that, but I’ll speak first. My role becomes active the moment that I declared a state of emergency and if the city council acts to give the mayor authority over the police, or under the circumstances, if there’s a declaration of martial law. My role really is one of influence in those situations. I cannot give commands to the department. I cannot instruct the police chief to take certain actions or not to take certain actions. A person who can do that is the city manager. In terms of what the protocols are, and for handling protests, I imagine the chief will be coming back to join us and speak on that shortly. But Mr. Boganey, if you have any comments on that?

Speaker 25: (28:18)
Could you release the name of the officer who was involved in the shooting?

Reporter 3: (28:21)
It’s public data.

Kurt Boganey: (28:23)
It’s my understanding that that name will be released very shortly. But it’s my understanding that at this point, the BCA who’s doing the investigation was not …

Reporter 3: (28:39)
The BCA is not required by law to conduct the investigation, you all specifically chose him, which means you have ultimate authority over what happens and what information is released. So just as the chief released that body camera footage, we’re inspecting the name of the officer to be released, because that is public data. The BCA has no control over that whatsoever.

Kurt Boganey: (28:59)
Well, let me say this, and I will let the chief address that particular question as well. But I will tell you this: we have every intent to release that information as quickly as possible. I’ll just leave it at that. There’s not reason or desire to withhold that information any longer than is absolutely necessary.

Reporter 3: (29:17)
Okay. Can you instruct the chief to release her name?

Kurt Boganey: (29:21)
I won’t do that at this moment, at this place.

Reporter 3: (29:24)

Kurt Boganey: (29:25)
It would be inappropriate.

Reporter 3: (29:27)
That’s not inappropriate. What was inappropriate was killing Daunte Wright under those circumstances. You are working harder to protect a killer cop than a victim of police murder.

Kurt Boganey: (29:40)

Tim Gannon: (29:42)
Sorry. I’m sorry.

Reporter 3: (29:43)
[crosstalk 00:29:43] first time [crosstalk 00:29:44].

Tim Gannon: (29:44)
I’m back. I’m sorry. I left. I’m used to doing the handoff with the BCA. I apologize for that. Normally the BCA steps in and they do a lot of the talk about the investigations. That’s what I’m used to. I apologize for that, but I’m back here now. I can answer some more questions. But please realize, in an officer-involved shooting, what happens is I have no contact with that investigation because I don’t want to taint that investigation. People can say they scoff at that. I looked at this video, which is unprecedented. I don’t know of any chief that’s done that very often or has looked at that video in advance of that. Sometimes you can’t watch a video. [crosstalk 00:30:23] Hold up. Hold on. Let me finish. Let me finish please. What I’m saying is I have limited information. I’m not trying to be disingenuous, but I’m trying to stay away from the investigation. I wish the BCA was here, but again, they’d probably tell you the same thing that there’s not much they can do because it’s an early investigation. Now, please. One question at a time. Yes, sir. [crosstalk 00:30:41].

Speaker 15: (30:41)
Chief, may I ask you directly, as I asked the mayor, do you believe the officer who fired this fatal shot … And I understand there’s due process. We get that. But ultimately she shot and killed a 20 year old man. The mayor had indicated she should be terminated. What’s your position on that?

Tim Gannon: (30:59)
My position is that officer afforded due process, just like anybody else does. She has the right to be heard. She has the right to give her statement. She has right to tell what she felt, what she thought, not what I thought, not what I saw, but what she thought and what she … And that may have an impact. She’s on administrative … time … one time out. [crosstalk 00:31:17] She will not be returning to duty until this investigation has run its course. For all intents and purposes, I think we can look at the video and ascertain whether or not she’ll be returned. [crosstalk 00:31:31] One question at a time, please. It was over here?

Speaker 18: (31:35)

Tim Gannon: (31:35)
Yes. Ma’am.

Speaker 18: (31:35)
This is not the first time that this has happened in the city of Brooklyn Center. Two years ago, we had another officer-involved shooting where a young man lost his life. You understand that the public do not trust you and your department right now. What we are asking for, you are not giving to us. We should already have a process right now on how to deal with the situation. We really demand to know the information of the officer involved in the shooting.

Tim Gannon: (31:55)
The first question is we do have a process in place, and that’s leaning on the BCA to do their investigation. Every shooting that I’ve seen, every shooting that I’ve witnessed-

Reporter 3: (32:06)
That’s a choice, that’s not a process.

Tim Gannon: (32:06)
-has been different. Every circumstance is different around every shooting. It’s tragic every time. The loss of life is obviously tragic, but there are different circumstances around every situation. In this particular situation, it was very important for me to get that video out as quickly as possible. And that’s what I did,

Speaker 26: (32:24)
Chief, absolutely unprecedented. I lived in Minnesota seven years, worked here. Can you just tell us a little bit about how long the officer was on the force here in Brooklyn Center? Was she around when Barway was pulled from the body of water, six years ago today?

Tim Gannon: (32:40)
The information on the officer, she’s a very senior officer. That’s the extent that I can do.

Speaker 18: (32:44)
Does she even know the difference between a taser and a gun?

Tim Gannon: (32:47)
A very senior officer. I do believe that the BCA will be releasing all the information, training records, everything that they have. They’ll be releasing that. That’s public data. That’ll be coming out shortly.

Speaker 24: (32:58)
And Chief, what is the normal protocol and process for response to protesters and was that-

Reporter 1: (33:03)
… and processed for a response to protesters. And was that protocol and process followed last night?

Tim Gannon: (33:07)
There was strict adherence to the policy of working with the protest when it turns into a riot. Last night, there were numerous warnings to disperse because it was an unlawful assembly. It was declared at least five times while I was there. Plenty of time was given to disperse and it was not.

Reporter 1: (33:23)
Was it your decision to release tear gas and to shoot rubber bullets at the young protesters?

Tim Gannon: (33:35)
I’m the police chief in the city. Police action is made by me. The decision is made by me. Does that answer your question?

Reporter 1: (33:42)

Reporter 2: (33:42)
So I have a question. Upon myself and other organizers and activists coming up to the police station, we were really shocked to see utter darkness, to see all of the lights, both interior and exterior extending all the way out, making the street virtually dark. We were really shocked and surprised to see that. From my experience, and I would imagine most other people’s experiences, law enforcement would want to have as much light as possible to be able to see whatever is going on. I was told that the moment the lights all went down, that created a certain level of mood, a certain agitation within the crowd. What was your thinking? Because I was told that you made the ultimate call to turn all the lights off, even the street lights that was out in front of the building, to turn all of the lights off. What was your thinking about turning off the lights in the midst of people coming and attempting to redress at the police station? What was your decision behind turning off all the lights?

Tim Gannon: (34:44)
I don’t know about the lights on the street, but I know the building lights were turned off because they created a back lighting for the officers that were on the front lines. They became targets for concrete blocks, frozen cans that I personally saw and ducked. So that’s what I turned those lights off, so that our-

Reporter 2: (35:00)
So turning off the lights made them less of targets?

Tim Gannon: (35:02)
Yes, they weren’t back lit. So then the people that were in front, they couldn’t see you. So if we have lights in front of us, that’s what the police department would like to have. We’d like to be looking out forward, not behind us, because then you get back lit. Does that make sense?

Reporter 2: (35:13)
So the lights were all around the front part of the building. The police were well behind that, but it just created an entire darkness around. It seemed very unusual for a station to have all the lights off, including the lights all in the streets and create utter darkness and a lot of confusion and a real ominous kind of move. And I would say that it’s very unusual. I’ve been to a lot of police stations. I’ve been to a lot of protests. I’ve been to a lot of these types of events. I have never seen the police department utterly shut down all of the lights. What was your thinking behind? Not the back lit lights, but all of the lights, even in the front part of the police station, in general, to create utter darkness.

Reporter 2: (35:58)
And then also, one final question. What was your decision to issue a dispersal order while they were peacefully protesting in front of the police station? What led to you to issue a dispersal order? And then on the back end of that 10 minute dispersal order, then to issue out CO2 canisters and gas for the crowd. Can you talk to us about that?

Tim Gannon: (36:19)
Yeah. Just so everybody’s clear. I was front and center at the protest. At the riot. We did not-

Reporter 3: (36:28)
Don’t do that.

Reporter 4: (36:29)
There was no riot happening.

Tim Gannon: (36:30)
There was.

Reporter 3: (36:30)
That ain’t right.

Tim Gannon: (36:33)
The officers that were putting themselves in harm’s way were being pelted with frozen cans of pop. They were being pelted with concrete blocks. And yes, we had our helmets on and we had other protection gear, but an officer was injured, hit in the head with a brick. That was a Hennepin County Deputy. He was transported to the hospital. So we had to make decisions. We had to disperse the crowd because we can’t allow our officers to be harmed. And I’ve already answered the question, I believe, about your lighting. I know that’s a big deal with you. And I understand that, but I thought I’ve explained that myself. I told you it’s my decision. And that’s why I made that decision. Is there another question? Yes, ma’am.

Reporter 5: (37:10)
The room is tense. I can feel it.

Tim Gannon: (37:12)
Yes, ma’am.

Reporter 5: (37:13)
What is on your heart?

Reporter 3: (37:15)
He’s defensive.

Reporter 5: (37:16)
Let him answer, guys.

Tim Gannon: (37:17)

Reporter 3: (37:19)
Speak to us for real. Keep it one hundred.

Tim Gannon: (37:23)
This is what I’m here for. Okay. I’m the leader of this department. They expect me to lead, create a safe city. That’s what I’m trying to do. So that’s it.

Reporter 3: (37:40)
I’m okay about crying, too.

Tim Gannon: (37:41)
Okay. And yeah, I’m emotional.

Reporter 5: (37:45)
Guys, he’s being honest.

Tim Gannon: (37:46)
I’m just trying to be honest.

Reporter 6: (37:49)
I have a question for you.

Tim Gannon: (37:50)
Yes, sir.

Reporter 6: (37:51)
When you asked the protesters to take a step back across the street, what was the reasoning for after they went across the street, you shot your tear gas grenades and flash bangs where the people were across the street, where you had originally told them to be?

Tim Gannon: (38:08)
Sure. In every situation that we had, we returned fire. So when we got pelted with bricks or frozen cans, which you’ve collected. We photographed the evidence. We have the evidence. We can show that to you in the future. But once we got pelted, then we responded in kind. There was a distance in everything that-

Reporter 3: (38:32)
[crosstalk 00:38:32] Who were out there, who had nothing to do with throwing anything. That’s the danger of turning out the lights and firing tear gas and firing rubber bullets and firing flash bang grenades at people who were just exercising their first amendment rights to freedom of speech. That’s the problem, Chief.

Tim Gannon: (38:47)
I understand that.

Reporter 7: (38:47)
Would you do things differently?

Tim Gannon: (38:49)
Would I do things differently last night?

Reporter 7: (38:50)
Than last night.

Tim Gannon: (38:53)
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. We had a situation where we were bringing in an arrest team. And we were worried. How many people are we going to arrest? When we started to move the people, finally, hours into the situation, you know how many people we arrested that stayed? Two people. If we hadn’t done that, if we hadn’t moved people along, I don’t know what would’ve happened. And I don’t know where they would have reformed, but the people that left were allowed to leave. We didn’t trap them. We didn’t make mass arrests. We arrested two people.

Reporter 1: (39:25)
So what are the plans for tonight if there’s protests?

Tim Gannon: (39:28)
Tonight, if it’s a peaceful protest, if it’s a first amendment protest, go to it. We’ll allow it.

Reporter 7: (39:35)
I guess, what’s your definition of a peaceful protest? Because we don’t understand.

Tim Gannon: (39:38)
Yeah. Not being pelted with bricks, blocks, and being targeted.

Reporter 7: (39:42)
What we saw yesterday were young people with their hands up [crosstalk 00:39:45] and they were getting tear gassed. And you was talking about your officers being hurt and you can’t count how many people got hurt yesterday, too.

Tim Gannon: (39:52)

Reporter 7: (39:52)
So that’s why I’m going to ask again. I just want to [inaudible 00:39:54] things differently tonight.

Tim Gannon: (39:55)
We’re going to have our officers lined up to protect this building, to protect the city as best we can. That’s what we’re going to do today. And that’s what we do every day.

Reporter 8: (40:06)
I got one more question. When the officers were firing tear gas and flash bangs, there was an apartment complex with families behind it. And that’s where a lot of the flash bangs were going. Had a flash bang went into one of those windows and started that building on fire, it put a lot of other people at risk.

Tim Gannon: (40:26)

Reporter 8: (40:27)

Tim Gannon: (40:28)
I didn’t see any flash bang that was very close to those apartments. 1400 67th. I was there. I didn’t see anybody.

Reporter 8: (40:34)
67 not supported at-

Tim Gannon: (40:36)
40. 6740.

Reporter 3: (40:37)
It went right over here, over the building.

Tim Gannon: (40:38)

Reporter 3: (40:40)
And we saw that last [crosstalk 00:40:41]

Tim Gannon: (40:42)
I didn’t see that myself.

Reporter 3: (40:43)
Well, he saw it.

Tim Gannon: (40:44)
Good. And I’m not discounting you. [crosstalk 00:40:47] Are there going to be more questions?

Reporter 3: (40:50)
Why was Duante Wright’s body left in the streets for hours yesterday?

Tim Gannon: (40:55)
The due respect for Duante was given at my order to keep the respect of his body, whether that be covered it or fenced it around, but we needed to have it maintained because we needed the investigation to be complete and thorough. The documentation is not done by us. It’s done by the BCA crime team, which is the entity that investigates these situations. They came out as quickly as they could. They processed the scene as quickly as they could. As people have mentioned, once the officers left, the protest and the disturbance went away. We were trying to get our officers out there as soon as possible.

Reporter 3: (41:31)
Do you understand how dehumanizing that was to have a body lay in the street for five hours?

Tim Gannon: (41:35)
That was a priority of my assignment to get him removed from that as soon as possible, without disturbing the crime scene so that we wouldn’t be accused of tampering with the evidence.

Mike Elliott: (41:46)
All right. Now, let me ask. Chief, you can stay here for a second. Are there any other questions here from any of the media folks? No?

Reporter 5: (41:55)
Thank you for your time.

Mike Elliott: (41:57)

Reporter 1: (41:57)
Yes, I have a question.

Mike Elliott: (42:00)
Final question.

Reporter 1: (42:03)
Final question. Police Chief, we hear that you have committed to protecting this building, protecting this city tonight if there are protests. Will you commit to protecting protesters and the people of this city?

Tim Gannon: (42:13)
I am committed to protecting the peaceful protesters to the city every day.

Reporter 3: (42:19)
Not yesterday.

Tim Gannon: (42:20)
Peaceful protesters.

Reporter 3: (42:21)
That was a peaceful protest. And they were [inaudible 00:42:24] me.

Tim Gannon: (42:25)

Mike Elliott: (42:29)
All right. So thank you. Thank you everybody. Just to reiterate, my commitment, our commitment as a city, and in many ways we need to recommit to that, that is to making sure that we are protecting peaceful protesters. We’re protecting the rights of people to gather and grieve and give their grievances to the government. And so we’re going to work to continue to protect those rights, protect peaceful protesters, and to make sure that we’re also securing the safety of our community.

Reporter 1: (43:01)
Do you understand that when peaceful protesters [inaudible 00:43:03], that things are going to escalate and at that point you can’t win them. You called them rioters. Understand that?

Mike Elliott: (43:13)
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

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