ST. PAUL -- The fatal shooting of a 20-year-old by a Brooklyn Center police officer “has been devastating” both for community members and police officers, the acting president of the union for the suburb’s rank-and-file officers wrote in an open letter to the Brooklyn Center community Wednesday, May 5.

Detective Chuck Valleau, in the union’s first public remarks since Daunte Wright died on April 11, said officers “remain committed to community outreach and strengthening our relationships with our residents. We stand willing to identify and address any racial inequity in our city.”

Officer Kimberly Potter fatally shot Wright, who was Black, as he struggled with police during a traffic stop. Potter’s body camera recorded her shouting “Taser! Taser!” before she fired, and the city’s police chief said he believed she meant to use her stun gun.

Kimberly Potter booking photo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021.
Kimberly Potter booking photo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Potter has been charged with manslaughter. She was the Brooklyn Center police union president until her resignation from the department. The police chief also resigned.

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“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Daunte Wright’s family and friends,” Valleau wrote in the Wednesday letter. “Our police department family is also grieving for Kim Potter. She served the community for 25 years and we love her as a sister. It is impossible for me to grasp the overwhelming emotional burden of taking a life after dedicating your career to protecting life.”

In the days after Wright was killed, there were clashes between protesters in Brooklyn Center and law enforcement. People have continued to demonstrate, though it has been “many nights since officers have had any physical contact with protesters and I hope this continues as we all try to heal,” Valleau wrote.

Valleau said there have been instances of protesters yelling racial slurs at officers of color and he asked that they stop.

“When these officers put on their uniform they already carry with them an extra sense of responsibility and they do not deserve to be demonized for the color of their skin,” Valleau wrote.

Valleau thanked community members who sent cards, donations and food to the police department. He said they’ve received more than they can use and “funneled many donations directly back into the community.

“The overwhelming support has helped remind us who we serve and the reason we continue to come to work,” Valleau continued.