The now former city manager of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, who was fired Monday after suggesting that an officer who shot and killed a young black man during a traffic stop deserves due process, says he was not calling for a drawn-out investigation before deciding whether or not to fire the officer, but simply for the city to “take enough time to consider the facts.”
Curt Boganey, who’s worked for the city of Brooklyn Center since 2003 – including 15 years as city manager – said the process of terminating an officer “fundamentally requires fairness.”
“What I was simply saying is that everyone is entitled to an examination of the facts before making a determination,” Boganey said in a brief telephone interview with National Review on Tuesday morning. “Sometimes that can be in a relatively short order.”
“I wasn’t even arguing that the information that we have is insufficient,” he said. “I was just simply saying that every officer is entitled to due process.”
During an emergency meeting Monday, the Brooklyn Center City Council voted to remove Boganey from his job and turn authority over the police department to Mayor Mike Elliott.
The council’s decision came after a press conference – attended by not only the press but by community activists – about the death of Daunte Wright, 20. Officer Kim Potter, a 26-year Brooklyn Center police veteran, shot Wright during a traffic stop as Wright attempted to flee in his car. Body camera footage released Monday shows Potter yelling “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before shooting Wright with her handgun. “Holy sh**, I shot him,” she said.
Potter, 48, was suspended while the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates the shooting. She submitted her resignation on Tuesday. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who also called for due process for Potter, also has stepped down.
During Monday’s press conference, Elliott supported firing Potter.
“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,” Elliott said. “And so, I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties.”
But when Boganey took the podium and was confronted by activists calling for Potter to be fired, he disappointed them. “All employees working for the city of Brooklyn City are entitled to due process,” he said, as is Potter.
“Folks that were in the room, they were asking me to make a judgement at the moment,” Boganey told National Review. “In my mind, that would not have been appropriate, because even with the facts that we have, we don’t have all the facts.”
Boganey said he wasn’t talking about contractual obligations related to the police department’s collective bargaining agreement. He was simply calling for weighing all the evidence.
“We have to take enough time to consider the facts before making a decision,” Boganey said. “We want to take enough time to gather as much relevant information as we can before making a decision.”
According to the Star Tribune, at least one city council member voted to oust Boganey from the job he’s held since 2006 not because he had done a bad job, or because he’d done anything wrong, but “because she feared for her property and retaliation by protestors if she had voted to keep him.”
“He was doing a great job. I respect him dearly,” Council Member Kris Lawrence-Anderson said, according to the Star Tribune. “I didn’t want repercussions at a personal level.”
Boganey declined to comment about his termination.
Ron Meuser Jr., a Minnesota-based lawyer who specializes in representing police officers in civil cases involving workers compensation and disability, said discipline for Potter – if she hadn’t resigned – would have been guided by the police department’s collective bargaining agreement. He said the mayor’s comments at the press conference, supporting Potter’s firing, could have been a liability for the city.
“It’s clear that the mayor was, at least in my opinion, simply trying to placate the mob,” he said.
After the shooting, demonstrators took the streets of Brooklyn Center and nearby Minneapolis, and vandalized and looted several businesses. Demonstrators clashed again with police on Monday night, leading to about 40 arrests, according to the Star Tribune.