The fatal shooting of a Black man by a White police officer in a Minneapolis suburb Sunday afternoon has turned the nation’s attention to the city’s leadership as the issue of police misconduct once again dominates the headlines.
Mike Elliott is the mayor of Brooklyn Center, where Sunday’s shooting took place. Elliott called the shooting “deeply tragic.”
“We cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people,” Elliott said. “We’re going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is done and our communities are made whole.”
The shooting happened as police were trying to arrest 20-year-old Daunte Wright on an arrest warrant. An officer, who apparently meant to grab her Taser, fired her weapon after Wright broke free from police outside his car and got back behind the wheel, body camera video shows.
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Kim Potter, a 26-year police veteran who was identified as the officer who shot Wright, was put on administrative leave before she and Police Chief Tim Gannon both resigned two days after the shooting.
Elliott said he hoped their resignations would help heal the community and lead to reconciliation after two nights of protests and unrest.
“That’s what we’re going to continue to work for,” Elliott said. “We have to make sure that justice is served, justice is done. Daunte Wright deserves that, his family deserves that.”
The mayor said the new police leadership was committed to working with community leaders and protesters, who say Wright was racially profiled.
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“We’re hoping that we’re turning over a new leaf now,” he said. “I’m confident of that now.”
Elliott announced Monday evening that the city had voted to give his office “command authority” over the police department.
This “will streamline things and establish a chain of command and leadership,” he wrote on Twitter. He also said the city manager had been fired, and the deputy city manager would take over his duties.
Brooklyn Center is a modest suburb just north of Minneapolis that has seen its demographics shift dramatically in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was White. Today, a majority of residents are Black, Asian or Latino.
Elliott, the city’s first Black mayor, immigrated from the West African country of Liberia with his family at the age of 11.
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He was sworn in as Brooklyn Center’s ninth mayor in January 2019 after defeating Mayor Tim Willson in the Nov. 6 election with nearly 55% of the vote, The Star Tribune reported. Willson had been mayor since 2007 and had defeated Elliott in the 2014 election.
Elliott attended local schools and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in international management and a minor in political science from Hamline University in St. Paul.
He is also the founder of Fastforward Education, a foundation dedicated to fostering academic success in Brooklyn Center schools.
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Sunday’s shooting happened just miles from where the trial of Derek Chauvin, the first of four police officers being tried in George Floyd’s death, is underway. Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is White, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck. Chauvin and three other officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death.