Chief Skinner responds to death of Daunte Wright

Chief Skinner says policies are in place in Eugene to prevent officers from mistakenly using a gun instead of a Taser.

Posted: Apr 15, 2021 3:37 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner is sharing his thoughts after the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black driver killed by an officer in Minnesota.

“I was shocked, angry, and sad at the loss of this young man’s life,” Skinner said.

Wright was killed following a traffic stop and attempted arrest in the Brooklyn Center area. The town’s police chief issued a statement that he believes the officer intended to use a Taser but mistakenly fired their gun.

MORE: DAUNTE WRIGHT'S MOTHER SAYS 'JUSTICE ISN'T EVEN A WORD TO ME' AS EX-OFFICER MAKES COURT APPEARANCE

In his statement, Skinner addressed concerns that something similar could happen in Eugene. Tasers have been used in the Eugene Police Department since 2008, and Skinner said they worked with the community and the Police Commission to review related training and policies.

Skinner said the following policies are in place to help prevent the accidental usage of a gun in place of a Taser:

  • Eugene officers carry Tasers on their non-dominate side, opposite their guns, meaning that the action of using a Taser is different.
  • The department’s Tasers also are lighter and bright yellow to make them distinctive.
  • Officers are not allowed to hold a Taser and gun at the same time.

“As a police chief, I have been on high alert because of this incident to search for answers as details come out in the case. Our department will use what we learn to inform our training and practices here in Eugene but also recognize that this conversation should not be solely focused on training but on the character and quality of our police officers,” Skinner said.

Right now, the department’s defensive tactics sergeant is working with the training team on information from scientists about the brain and human performance when it comes to weapons. This and de-escalation techniques are being reinforced through training and annual recertifications, Skinner said.

After Eugene city councilors review recommendations from the city’s Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy, they will provide guidance that Skinner says the department will implement.

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