Former Minnesota Police Officer Kim Potter Will Be Charged In Shooting Death Of Daunte Wright
A prosecutor said Wednesday he would charge a white former police officer in suburban Minneapolis with second degree manslaughter of killing 20-year-old black motorist Daunte Wright in a shootout that sparked days of unrest and clashes between protesters and police.
The charges against former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter are filed on Wednesday, three days after Wright was killed in a traffic obstruction and while the murder trial continues nearby for the ex-officer charged with the murder of George Floyd last May Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said.
The former Brooklyn Center police chief said Potter, a 26-year-old veteran and training officer, intended to use her taser on Wright but fired her pistol instead. However, protesters and Wright's family members say there is no excuse for the shooting and it shows how the judicial system has tilted against blacks. Wright was stopped for expired car registration and ended up dead.
Kim Potter Pd
Kim Potter Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff
Intent is not a necessary part of second degree manslaughter in Minnesota. The charge - which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison - may be brought in circumstances where there is a suspicion that a person is causing, through "culpable negligence," an unreasonable risk or consciously taking the risk Cause death of a person.
When asked how he came to the fee decision, Orput said, "I think it will be obvious when you read the complaint," which was not yet available.
Potter, 48, was arrested Wednesday morning at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul. Her attorney did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.
Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon both resigned on Tuesday.
Concrete barricades and high metal fences had been erected around Potter's Champlin house, north of the Brooklyn Center, and police cars were guarding the driveway. After Floyd's death last year, protesters demonstrated several times at the home of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer currently on trial over Floyd's death.
Police say Wright was stopped on Sunday for expired tags, but they wanted to arrest him after discovering he had a pending arrest warrant. The warrant covered his failure to appear in court for escaping from officials and holding a gun without permission during an encounter with police in Minneapolis in June.
The body camera video released by Gannon on Monday shows Potter approaching Wright as he stands in front of his car while another officer arrests him.
As Wright fights the police, Potter yells, "I'm going to tase you! I'm going to berate you! Taser! Taser! Taser!" Before firing a single shot from her pistol.
Wright's family attorney, Ben Crump, said the family appreciated the criminal case but again denied the shooting happened accidentally, arguing that a seasoned officer knew the difference between a taser and a pistol.
"Kim Potter executed Daunte for a minor traffic violation and a misdemeanor warrant," he said.
Experts say cases of officers mistakenly firing their gun in place of a taser are rare, usually less than once a year across the country.
Transit officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two years in prison after responding to a fight at a train station in Oakland, California. Oscar Grant, 22, was killed in 2009. Mehserle testified in court that he mistakenly pulled his 40-caliber pistol instead of his stun gun.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a white volunteer sheriff's deputy, Robert Bates, was convicted of second degree manslaughter after accidentally firing his pistol while aiming his stun gun at Eric Harris, a black man being held by other officers 2015.
Potter was a police instructor at the Brooklyn Center, according to the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association. She was training two more officers when they stopped Wright, the union leader Brian Peters told the Star Tribune.
In her one-paragraph resignation letter, Potter said, “I loved every minute that I was a cop and served this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interests of the community, the department. and my colleagues if I resign immediately. "
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said Tuesday he hoped Potter's resignation would "bring some calm to the community," but he would continue to work toward "full accountability under the law."
Police and protesters faced each other again after dark on Tuesday. Hundreds of protesters gathered again at the heavily guarded Brooklyn Center Police Headquarters, now surrounded by concrete barriers and a tall metal fence, and where riot gear and National Guard soldiers stood guard.
About 90 minutes to 10 p.m. curfew, state police announced over loudspeaker that the gathering had been declared illegal and ordered the crowd to disperse. This sparked confrontations, in which protesters fired fireworks at the station and threw objects at officers who fired lightning strikes and gas grenades, and then marched in a line to push the crowd back.
State police said the distribution order came before the curfew because protesters were trying to tear down fences and throw stones at the police. The number of protesters fell over the next hour until there were only a few left. The police also ordered all media outlets to leave.
In Brooklyn Center, a suburb north of Minneapolis, racial demographics have changed dramatically in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Today the majority of the population is black, Asian or Spanish.
Elliott said Tuesday that he did not have racial diversity information on hand to police, but that "we have very few people of color in our department".
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