This police chief should NOT make pronouncements characterizations and dismiss the officers actions as an accident before an investigation. #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeInPolicingAct https://t.co/Fej8638AT4— Rep. Stacey Plaskett (@StaceyPlaskett) April 12, 2021
Noting he had viewed the video of the incident, Chief Gannon was wrong to have remarked "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." Nor should he have reiterated approximately seven minutes later that with the video and "much of the training that I’ve received, and that’s why I’m believing it to be an accidental discharge."
Then what shall we, as individuals of the left presumably committed to employee rights, make of this exchange between a questioner and the mayor of Brooklyn Center?
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)
Twenty-four seconds after the last comment, Elliot acknowledged "I have not spoken with the officers involved myself."
Let's review: 1) both men saw the video; 2) one man saw the video and knows the training the officer received and tentatively concludes the shooting was an accident; 3) one man saw the video, (presumably) does not fully know the training the officer received, and recommends she be fired.
Chief Gannon should have limited his comments to the facts, and on this specific aspect to roughly "from hearing the officer say 'taser, taser,' it appears she planned to fire her taser and not her firearm."
But however neutral the Chief should be at this stage, he wears the uniform and his opinions will be viewed in light of that. He represents the police force, the shooting reflects upon him, and neutrality cannot be assumed. Mayor Elliot, however, is mayor of the entire city and is assumed to be neutral and objective.
Admittedly, Elliot's statement is consistent with the rest of his comments, which make it clear that he already has decided the case, which may be useful to the defense if the Officer is disciplined and/or found guilty of a criminal offense. Gannon, though, strove to convince the press and the public that he is impartial, which is inconsistent with "I'm believing it to be an accidental discharge."
Delegate Plaskett is correct- Chief Gannon's characterization was inappropriate. It would have been helpful, however, if Plaskett had been more inclusive in her own characterization and at least suggested that Mayor Elliot was contemptuous of the due process rights of employees in the workplace.