This past Sunday, police officers in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis stopped a car with an expired licence plate and an object illegally hanging on its rearview mirror. When the police officers searched the driver’s name—Daunte Wright—on their database, they discovered a warrant for his arrest based on charges related to an alleged aggravated assault and attempted robbery.
When the police officers attempted to arrest Daunte Wright outside his car, he resisted arrest. Prompting one of the police officers to tell him, “don’t do it. Stop.”
Immediately, however, Daunte Wright manoeuvred himself away from the police officer and jumped back into his car’s driver seat to speed away. Then one of the officers—Kim Potter—warned: “I’ll tase you! I’ll tase you!—taser, taser, taser!”, but instead of tasing him, she shot him in the chest.
Right away, Kim Potter said, “oh sh*t, I just shot him”, while a wounded Daunte Wright drove off until his car had a minor collision with another car 140 meters away from the location of the initial incident. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kim Potter claims she made a horrible, deadly mistake. She says she meant to use her taser, not her gun.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday Kim Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter for “culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk”.
However, since Daunte Wright is black and Kim Potter is white, many people refuse to believe she killed him by accident. Instead, they believe she intentionally killed him because of racism.
As it’s become the norm—this prompted many protests and riots in Minneapolis and across America.
One of the worst things about critical race theory or identity politics is that it robs us from a love for our shared humanity. Critical race theory suggests my identity—and therefore my allegiance—is with Daunte Wright, not Kim Potter.
But that’s not true. My skin colour isn’t more important than my humanity. Daunte Wright’s and Kim Potter’s skin colours aren’t more important than their humanity either.
Daunte Wright isn’t made in my image. He is made in the image of God—just like Kim Potter. Therefore, their creator sets the standard for how I should think about them both—not Black Lives Matter, not the criminal justice system, not the media, not me, and not you.
God commands me to love Daunte Wright, and he commands me to love Kim Potter too. He commands me to love Daunte Wright and Kim Potter as myself. Which is why I’ve been wondering, what if a white police officer accidentally killed me? Would I want you to react to my death the way I encourage you to react to Daunte Wright’s death? Would I want you to react with love, grace, and impartiality with my killer as I encourage you to react to Kim Potter?
By the grace of God: yes.
I am not concerned about getting (accidentally) killed by police officers. In America or Canada, the chances of me getting killed by a police officer is less than 1%. Nevertheless, in the extremely unlikely chance that I get killed accidentally by a police officer, I wouldn’t want people to believe they need to hate police officers to love me.
If a police officer killed me and claimed it was an accident, I know my family and friends might be tempted to search for meaning out of my senseless death. In fatal police shootings, grieving people—especially grieving black people—are more likely to believe their loved one died sinisterly than senselessly. Remembering the loved ones as powerful symbols of antiracism seems more comforting than the alternatives. Therefore, my family and friends might be tempted to ascribe racism as the motive for my death, to make my death less senseless and more meaningful.
However, unless evidence suggests otherwise, I’d want my family and friends to pursue justice while believing all things and hoping all things for the police officer who accidentally killed me. Out of love for God and out love for the police officer, I would want my family and friends to believe them.
I wouldn’t want my death used as a license to kill the police officer’s spirit.
If a white police officer accidentally killed me, I wouldn’t want Black Lives Matter using my blood and my mother’s tears as currency to buy mansions.
If a white police officer accidentally killed me as I resisted arrest after committing a crime, I’d want my family and friends to make the painful yet loving choice to warn other black men from becoming like me. I’d want them to warn people from the deadly consequences of criminal activity and resisting arrest.
If a white police officer accidentally killed me, I’d want my family and friends to remember Jesus’ death more than my own—so they would remember God’s grace and share that grace with my killer. After all, I am an imperfect and sinful person whose dangerous mistakes—providentially—haven’t resulted in manslaughter.
Of course, I would want justice—but more than anything: I’d want my family and friends to make Jesus’ name more known than my own, so many people, including the police officer would receive justification by faith in Jesus Christ, just as I have.
If a police officer accidentally killed me, I hope people would love the police officer as God commands them to. I hope they would be slow to speak and quick to listen, trusting that though impartiality doesn’t please our culture, it pleases Christ.
So I’m saddened for Daunte Wright’s family, just as I’m saddened for Kim Potter and her family.