Brooklyn Center city manager terminated after Duante Wright shooting was former Port Arthur official

Published 11:24 am Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A former Port Arthur city council member is looking into Minnesota law after Brooklyn Center City Manager and former Port Arthur City Manager Curt Boganey was fired following the fatal shooting of Duante Wright.

Wright died Sunday after a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Watching released police camera footage captured at approximately 2 p.m., one can see Wright being stopped because of “an expired registration on his license plate,” according to national reports.

As handcuffs are being placed on him, Wright is seen getting back into his vehicle. An officer on scene says, “tase him, tase him, tase him” before drawing a gun and firing. She then says, “holy (expletive), I just shot him,” as the vehicle drives away.

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Officer Kim Wright, who fired the shot, has since resigned from the department, as has Police Chief Tim Gannon.

But it was the Monday firing of the Brooklyn Center city manager that drew local interest.

Shortly after the shooting occurred, Curt Boganey spoke publicly and said: “All employees working for the city of Brooklyn Center are entitled to due process, with respect to discipline. This employee will receive due process, and that’s really all I can say.”

The Brooklyn Center mayor, who said he supported releasing the officer of her duties, later announced Boganey’s termination.

But former Port Arthur councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis, who worked with Boganey during his term as Port Arthur city manager from 1990-1995, is looking into the legality of his termination, recalling incidents that lead to Boganey being relieved of his duties in Southeast Texas.

“He was falsely terminated,” Lewis said of the former city manager.

Lewis, who was a member of the council that hired Boganey, said the former city manager was blamed for outstanding water bills that traced back 30-plus years. And when the council proposed to terminate his position, Lewis went to the Texas Municipal League and showed them the outstanding balance that pre-dated Boganey’s term.

Because of that, Lewis said, the TML attorneys opted not to cover the council with their standard liability insurance regarding Boganey’s termination. As a result, the ousted city manager had the ability to individually sue each member of the council.

“When I showed that documentation at the next council meeting, the TML attorney came and said they were not going to cover them,” Lewis said. “He pulled the liability insurance from the city council. They were not going to cover that incident. Those council members — they panicked. I mean, they panicked.”

Lewis said the council then bought out Boganey’s contract and legal fees, spending almost $200,000 of taxpayer money to cover the bill.

The former Port Arthur councilman said he is now looking to see if similar circumstances have played out in Minnesota.

“I know Curt Boganey,” he said. “Curt Boganey is not going to violate any process. I don’t think Curt could legally terminate that officer without protocol.”

Another Southeast Texas official who worked with Boganey at the time and spoke to Port Arthur Newsmedia anonymously said Boganey’s Port Arthur termination stemmed from more than just water bills, adding Boganey had always been “very professional.”

“I found him to be a good city manager,” his former colleague said.

— Staff writer Mary Meaux contributed to this report.