SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A new conversation is emerging after the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Wright was pulled over for an expired plate in Minnesota, and officers found a warrant for a misdemeanor charge to place him under arrest. The body camera from former officer Kim Potter shows the moment he was shot. Potter was formally charged with second-degree manslaughter in the case.
ABC4 News wanted to know if you can tell a difference between a taser and a gun?
We took the question to the Vice President of Center for Policing Equity and the former Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank.
He says, “Oh without a doubt. Really what it is about is the heft and the size, and a taser is very small. Now, someone who has a larger hand, it doesn’t even come halfway down my palm and so it is a noticeable difference.”
Burbank tells us there is more weight with a firearm, and it’s even heavier when it’s loaded.
“Either weapon you choose right, you have to bring it into your line of sight to use it. And, one is bright yellow and the other is either silver or black. So yes, you can tell the difference,” he adds.
At one point, Burbank says the taser resembled a handgun.
“They have since changed dramatically to make it very small because the challenge was, where do you fit all that garbage on your waste?”
The former police chief says officers are trained to do a cross-draw with the taser.
During an encounter with the public, Burbank says officers don’t need to be quick to react.
“Given the current environment that we are in, there has got to be some thought process that goes into any use of force before it happens,” he says. “What is the exigency that existed about that situation that anything had to be done immediately? That’s where we need to judge on the totality on the circumstance. Not that moment in time.”
He feels police need to change the way traffic stops are conducted.
“These are horrible innocents, but if we are focused solely on the horrible 30 seconds, eight minutes, three minutes, whatever it may be, we are missing the boat on police reimagining and reform,” says Burbank.
The former police chief says law enforcement across the country needs to change how officers operate to begin getting a different outcome when it comes to loss of life.