This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Protesters have been rioting and looting since former veteran Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter accidentally used her handgun to fatally shoot Daunte Wright, a black man, instead of using her taser. If Wright had been white, there would have been little to no protesting or publicity. Potter would have been disciplined and received a typical sentence for a fatal accident like that.
But because the victim was black, it’s been declared police racism and Potter is likely to get a long prison sentence. Afraid of saying otherwise, officials will chime in denouncing it as racism, giving it more credibility. The racism activists will use it as an example of how racist Americans are and create more division.
Racism or Truly a Mistake?
However, let’s look at it analytically. Was it really racism? We are now living in an era of heightened awareness of racist police actions. Police officers realize if they do anything that could be remotely perceived as being racist, they will have their lives destroyed. They will have hate hurled at them from all over, be forced out of their homes due to angry rioters, and subjected to high-profile criminal trials that may put them away for life. Attacking someone due to their race would follow them around for the rest of their life, changing their life in a horrible way. The last thing most police officers want to do is subject a minority to more severe treatment. As a result of this occurring, fewer and fewer people are becoming police officers.
Potter was well aware of this when she drew the gun instead of the taser. And there was no doubt she intended to use the taser, because video of the incident shows her yelling, “Taser! Taser!” several times. These kinds of accidents happen occasionally, less than once a year nationwide. In the heat of the moment, pumped up by adrenaline and fear, the officer reaches for the wrong gun and doesn’t realize it. There’s even a name for it, “slip and capture,” where officers perform the opposite of their intended actions under stress. But these incidents happen to white suspects too, you just never hear about them because they’re white. The fatal shooting of young black man Oscar Grant in 2009 was made into a movie, Fruitvale Station.
Part of the reason the radical left activists get away with this mantra about racist police is because there is a problem with police brutality in many other countries. A lot of it is directed toward ethnic groups, religious groups or tribes. People are so used to hearing about that kind of police violence, that it’s not much of a leap to believing it takes place here. No one questions that there may be an occasional racist police officer, or that there were more incidents involving racist police officers in the past. But it is not a systemic problem today and most of the incidents involving the police killing minorities nowadays do not appear to be a result of racism.
The problem is not going to go away as long as things have gotten so twisted that to question accusations of racism by Black Lives Matter on incidents where cops shoot minorities is considered racist itself.
In most cases, officers who accidentally used their gun instead of a taser did not face criminal charges. In 2019, a police officer who accidentally shot Brian Riling in the abdomen using a gun was not charged. His name wasn’t even released. Riling is white. In 2014, Officer Jason Schuck accidentally shot homeless man Eric David Butts, resulting in Butts being forced to use a colostomy bag. Schuck was allowed to keep his job and was only charged with a misdemeanor. Butts is white.
Whereas in at least two cases where officers fatally shot black suspects, the officers received prison sentences. Johannes Mehserle, who fatally shot Grant, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months in prison. Robert Bates, who fatally shot Eric Harris, was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison.
Wright’s family hired well-known attorney Benjamin Crump to represent them; he says great things we all support about how we should not discriminate against minorities — but on the other hand, insists that incidents like this are due to racism. He issued a statement that said in part, “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of color?” Protests and rioting went on for days, resulting in the arrests of over 110 people.
Compounding the problem is the nearby police killing of George Floyd last year. Most reasonable people believe former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin did not use good policing. So anger is extra inflamed in Minnesota. But even in his case, there is no evidence his actions were due to racism. He had a history of 18 complaints against him. Almost all of them were closed with no discipline. Maybe it was just plain old bad policing.
There is no evidence that Potter was a racist. If she was, activists and journalists would probably have dug it up by now. She has been charged with second degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars. Will she be treated fairly, or will she get a more severe sentence because the suspect was black?