Cop Who Shot Daunte Wright Charged With Manslaughter

Jon Blistein
·3 min read

Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright was charged with second-degree manslaughter, Wednesday April 14th.

According to a statement from the office of Washington County Attorney, Pete Orput, Potter was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Wednesday. A date for her first court appearance has yet to be announced.

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“Certain occupations carry an immense responsibility and none more so than a sworn police officer,” Imran Ali, Washington County assistant criminal division chief and director of the Major Crime Unit said in the statement. “With that responsibility comes a great deal of discretion and accountability. We will vigorously prosecute this case and intend to prove that Officer Potter abrogated her responsibility to protect the public when she used her firearm rather than her taser. Her action caused the unlawful killing of Mr. Wright and she must be held accountable. County Attorney Peter Orput and I met with the family, expressed our deepest sympathies and assured them we would spare no resources in seeking justice for Mr. Wright.”

Potter fatally shot the 20-year-old Wright on Sunday, April 11th. Wright had been pulled over for expired registration tags and because officers saw an “item hanging from the rearview mirror” (which is against the law in Minnesota). When the officers discovered there was a misdemeanor warrant out for Wright’s arrest, they tried to detain him. Body camera footage showed officers trying to handcuff Wright, and Wright trying to get back into his car; after a scuffle, Potter can be heard repeatedly shouting, “Taser” while pointing her gun at Wright and then shooting.

During a press conference Monday, April 12th, then-Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said he believed Potter — a 26-year veteran on the police force who also trained other officers in use of force, Taser use, and crowd control — meant to reach for her Taser but grabbed her gun when she shot Wright.

Attorney Ben Crump, who was retained by Wright’s family, issued a statement saying: “While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back. This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force. Driving while Black continues to result in a death sentence. A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a taser and a firearm. Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant. Daunte’s life, like George Floyd’s life, like Eric Garner’s, like Breonna Taylor’s, like David Smith’s meant something. But Kim Potter saw him as expendable. It’s past time for meaningful change in our country. We will keep fighting for justice for Daunte, for his family, and for all marginalized people of color. And we will not stop until there is meaningful policing and justice reform and until we reach our goal of true equality.”

An attorney for Potter did not immediately return a request for comment.

On Tuesday, April 13th, both Potter and Gannon resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Demonstrators have gathered each night since Wright’s death, with National Guard and State Patrol firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and other projectiles in response; some protesters have reportedly shot off fireworks and thrown bottles of water at police.

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