Former Minnesota police chief ousted after Daunte Wright killing says he lost job for doing ‘the right things’

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The former police chief of a Minneapolis suburb that was rocked by protests over the deadly police shooting of Daunte Wright earlier this year and who subsequently resigned days after the encounter said he wouldn’t change his handling of the killing and that he was forced to leave for doing “the right things.”

Tim Gannon, who headed Brooklyn Center’s police force, told Fox affiliate KMSP-TV that he made more than 100 critical decisions in the days after former officer Kimberly Potter shot Wright on April 11. 

The killing came nearly a year after George Floyd was killed during an encounter with Minneapolis police just a few miles away. 

Then-Brooklyn Center, Min., Police Chief Tim Gannon talks to the media on April 12, 2021. In an interview with a Fox affiliate, the former chief said he wouldn’t change how he handled the April police killing of Daunte Wright. (Shari Gross/Star Tribune via AP)

“I lost my job, but I did it doing the right things,” Gannon said. “In every decision that I made for those two or three nights; I thought any other police chief would’ve made those same decisions. They were the right decisions to make.”

Gannon resigned two days after the shooting amid pressure from protesters for him to step down after he refused to fire Potter and for his remarks during a news conference in which he said she accidentally fired her weapon instead of her Taser. Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force, also resigned 48 hours after the shooting and is charged with first-degree manslaughter. 

Her trial is expected to begin Nov. 30. 

Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop. Authorities said his vehicle was initially pulled over for having an expired registration. Officers were trying to arrest the 20-year-old man after having determined that he had an outstanding warrant, police said. 

Wright tried re-entering the vehicle when he was shot, police said. 

Daunte Wright, left, was killed in an April traffic stop. Kim Potter, right, is charged with manslaughter in his killing. 
(Facebook/Hennepin County Sheriff)

The day after the killing, Gannon released police body-camera footage of the stop. He declined to speak directly about the shooting with the news outlet, citing his potential to be called as a witness in Potter’s trial. 

The former chief said Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott orchestrated his dismissal and that of the former city manager, who had authority over the police department. 

“It was, I would say, a difficult relationship. We didn’t always see eye to eye on certain issues,” Gannon said of his dealings with Elliott, who he said wanted more control of the department. 

He also accused the mayor of being backed by activists who wanted the chief to fire Potter immediately. Gannon refused, saying civil procedures needed to be followed to allow for an internal investigation. 

Demonstrators take cover from crowd-dispersal munitions from police outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department while protesting the shooting death of Daunte Wright, late Tuesday, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP)

“I think the policy is in place for a reason.  It affords everyone the protection of doing things in the right way, not rushing things, not disciplining out of emotion,” Gannon said. “It’s a fair and transparent process.”

Fox News has reached out to Elliott’s office. 

The shooting unleashed violent protests in Brooklyn Center as many cities were still reeling from riots and tensions between demonstrators and police after Floyd’s death. In Brooklyn Center, Gannon said protesters attacked officers with bricks and fireworks.

Some activists contend the police initiated the aggression. 

“At that moment it could’ve been solved very peacefully, no one from our side made any aggression until they come out with the riot gear and held the line. Here’s the battle, now you come,” Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the news outlet. 

At one point, a mobile police force operated by the Minnesota State Patrol and Hennepin County Sheriff was defending the police station and leaders wanted to declare the protest as an unlawful assembly, Gannon said. 

“The mayor could not make a decision,” he said. “I turned to the mayor and said, ‘We need to have a decision. Put it on me. I will make the decision.'”

“He looked me in the eye. He got up and he walked out of my office,” he added. “I took that to mean he was delegating the authority for me to make the decision.”

The family of Daunte Wright march for the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s death on Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn.

The next day, he received Potter’s resignation email. The 27-year Brooklyn Center police veteran then received a call from the interim city manager saying there would be a leadership change at the police department. 

“And he basically told me, in no uncertain terms, that there was going to be a leadership change and I was no longer going to be the police chief,” Gannon said.

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