Chief: officer confused gun with Tazer in Wright case. US pauses J&J vaccine over clot concerns. ‘Record number’ of Chinese jets in Taiwan flyover. Russia tests US in Ukraine.
Chief: MN officer meant to Taze, not shoot Daunte Wright
Tim Gannon, the police chief of Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, says the officer who killed Daunte Wright, 20, in a Sunday traffic stop meant to Taze Wright rather than shoot him. The officer in question is Kim Potter, a 26-year-veteran of the force. Potter is now on administrative leave with pay and benefits. Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot has taken control of the police department. Elliot believes Potter should be fired, and will soon decide whether Gannon will remain as chief. Gannon has not stated his opinion on firing Potter, saying only, “I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning”.
Gannon played Potter’s bodycam footage to reporters. In the video, Potter pulls her sidearm and points it at Wright for several seconds, shouting three times, “I’ll Taze you!” and then, “Tazer!” three times to warn other officers of the electric charge. She then fires her weapon once, just as Wright gets back in his driver’s seat. As Wright slams the door and drives away, Potter tells the other officers, “Holy sh-t, I shot him!”.
How can this happen?
Protesters, notably Wright’s father, have voiced skepticism over the mix-up. This is understandable given Potter’s 26 years of experience. Such mix-ups are rare but not unheard of. However, experts say this is not the sort of mistake a longtime veteran typically makes. Past similar incidents mostly involved rookies or part time officers. Most officers, including Brooklyn Center police, are instructed to keep their firearms and Tasers on opposite sides of their body. Former longtime Des Plaines (IL) Police Chief Bill Kushner explains that this must be consistent as officers develop muscle memory, which takes over in stressful situations. Kushner added that what happened in Minnesota, “should not have gotten to the level of a fatality”.
However, it appears that even if Potter had drawn her Taser instead of her gun, she still would have violated department protocol. Brooklyn Center Police protocol is to avoid using Tasers on people operating a vehicle, to avoid collateral damage. The protocol also says officers must make a “reasonable effort” to avoid Tazing people in the chest. Potter shot Wright in the chest.
In Potter’s case, Minnesota authorities will be examining the possibility of a training failure. On thing they’re looking into is when Potter was last certified on her phaser. Ed Obayashi, an expert on the use of force by law enforcement, says appropriate training should make it difficult for officers to confuse a gun with a Taser. “But unfortunately it does happen,” Obayashi says. “This is not the first time and it won’t be the last”.
US pauses J&J vaccine over clot concerns
The FDA and CDC are calling for a temporary pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID vaccine. The agencies say they are acting out of “an abundance of caution” as they investigate cases of blood clots.
The agencies are looking into blood clots in six women that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in the sinuses of the brain along with reduced platelet counts. This makes use of heparin, the usual treatment for blood clots, , potentially “dangerous.”
More than 6.8 million people in the US have received the J&J shot so far, with the vast majority suffering no or mild side effects.
After US warning, ‘record number’ of Chinese jets in Taiwan flyover
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned China against further belligerent actions towards Taiwan. Blinken made is statement following numerous air incursions into Taiwan’s airspace by Chinese jets. He said “it would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change that status quo [in the Western Pacific] by force”.
As if in answer to Blinken’s warning, 25 Chinese military jets breached Taiwan’s defense zone on Monday. This is the most China has ever sent on any single incursion.
Members of the American military have also joined soldiers from the Philippines in joint drills this week. The US is seeking to bolster its military ties with the Philippines and other Asian countries to counter China’s increasingly aggression in the South China Sea. Recently, 200 huge Chinese commercial fishing vessels parked themselves at the Whitsun Reef in the Philippines’ territorial waters. Both Beijing and Manila have long claimed rights to the reef. China insists the vessels are simply fishing in China’s traditional fishing grounds. Philippines Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana says that the vessels are manned by ‘militia’ rather than fishermen. Also, none of the boats have been doing any fishing in the month they’ve been at anchor.
Russia tests US, NATO over Ukraine
In recent weeks, tensions between Russian and Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine have been escalating. Ukraine claims that Russia is amassing troops at its Eastern border. Attacks and skirmishes between the two sides have steadily increased since mid-March. As a result, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged NATO to speed up his country’s application for membership. This weekend, a Ukrainian soldier was reported killed by Russian-backed soldiers.
Speaking about the situation on Sunday, US Sec. of State Blinken said that, “If Russia acts recklessly, or aggressively, there will be costs, there will be consequences”.
In response, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters, “The United States is our adversary and does everything it can to undermine Russia’s position on the world stage”. Ryabkov also said, “We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good”.