KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While the shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota has sparked outrage and protests it’s not the first like it.
One retired officer studying the issue, John Peters, said officers across the country have confused their gun and their Taser 18 times leading to shootings.
Park University trains Criminal Justice students on less lethal force in the classroom setting, but not hands-on.
“We do explain to the students in the classroom, here’s why you would use this. Here’s the situations where you would use them,” Professor John Hamilton, Criminal Justice Chair at Park University said.
But Hamilton said shootings like those that happened near St. Louis in 2019 and Brooklyn Center, Minnesota this weekend where officers said they mistook their gun for their Taser demonstrate there’s likely an issue.
“I know it seems so difficult for people to hear the story and say you’ve got to give me a break how would that happen?” Hamilton said.
Guns and stun guns have different weights, and usually different colors.
Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas and Leawood Police told FOX4 they require their officers to wear stun guns on the opposite side of their firearms. Most often that’s also on the opposite side of their dominant hand with which they’d draw their weapon.
Officers are trained on the use of electrical type stun guns. KCK Police require annual recertification. But Professor Hamilton, a retired KCPD major, said that training pales in comparison to the time officers spend on the range with their firearms.
“The way we train officers so intently with the firearms that’s part of the reason they respond in that way. My intent may to be grab one, my muscle memory says another depending on the stress I’m under and how I particularly handle it individually.”
Brooklyn Center’s Police Chief Tim Gannon said his officers are required to separate their guns and Tasers before his resignation Wednesday. With Officer Kim Potter’s resignation we may not get more answers about how that confusion happened until any possible legal ramifications .
The City of Ladue, Missouri paid the unarmed Black woman shot in the back in 2019 $2 million. Officer Julia Crews resigned and was charged with second-degree assault and her case is still pending.
Taser’s manufacturer said it has design features to help officer’s better distinguish them. Kansas City Kansas Police Media Relations Specialist Nancy Chartrand points out it takes three deliberate steps to fire a handgun, and just one to fire a Taser.