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Ex-Brooklyn Center police chief sues city, alleging he was forced to resign after Daunte Wright shooting

Daunte Wright's family, Brooklyn Center reach $3.25M settlement
Daunte Wright's family, Brooklyn Center reach $3.25M settlement 00:22

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Brooklyn Center's former police chief is suing city officials, alleging they forced him to resign for not immediately firing Kim Potter, who shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.

Ex-chief Tim Gannon called the shooting "accidental" during a press conference shortly after the incident, and said Potter intended to use her Taser. Two days later, Gannon - who had been with the department for over 25 years - resigned.

The shooting sparked protests about police brutality and racial justice, less than a year after the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.

In February, former officer Potter was sentenced to two years for killing Wright on April 11, 2021. During Potter's trial, Gannon testified under oath that he was forced to resign due to "political pressures."

In the lawsuit which was filed on Wednesday, Gannon alleges the city manager gave him the opportunity to resign in lieu of termination, but did not provide him due process. Gannon, who is white, also alleges there was "racial tension" in the emergency city council meetings in the hours and days following the shooting, and says he was fired because of his race. In all, Gannon is seeking $50,000 due to emotional distress and damage to his reputation.

The lawsuit lays out the roughly-48 hours after Wright's death. While addressing the media on April 12, Gannon said he would not immediately terminate Potter because of the "procedural rights" she was afforded under her union's bargaining agreement.

That afternoon during an emergency city council meeting, attendees criticized and "ridiculed" Gannon for his decision, and Brooklyn Center's mayor Mike Elliot called for a closed session shortly after the meeting. The lawsuit claims the closed session was to "discuss [Gannon] and evaluate his performance."

The city manager at the time, Curt Boganey, refused to fire Gannon. In a meeting earlier that year, Gannon says he had asked Boganey what protections he had from termination, and Boganey's refusal to fire Gannon was "consistent with a promise he had made to [Gannon] earlier in the year" about affording due process.

Boganey was terminated 4-1 by the City Council, and Edwards assumed the role of city manager.

That night, at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting, the council discussed Gannon's employment, during which time Councilmember Marquita Butler said Gannon was "anti-community" and was "difficult to work with at times." 

The lawsuit says the statements were "false, made with malice, racially divisive," but the City Council approved a motion to direct Edwards to terminate Gannon.

At 10 a.m. on April 13, Edwards met with Gannon and told him the city needed a new police chief. The lawsuit says that Edwards did not provide Gannon with due process or include notice of the allegations made against him. Gannon took Edwards' offer to opt for resignation rather than termination.

On May 18, 2021, Gannon submitted a request under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act to any notes or documentation related to the closed city council meeting and his termination. 

In addition to accusations of racism, Gannon is also accusing the city, Edwards, and Butler of breach of contract, violation of the data practices act, violation of Minnesota open meeting laws, defamation, and lack of due process.

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