ST. PAUL — Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said Wednesday morning that Kim Potter, the Brooklyn Center police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, will be charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Details about the charge that Potter, 48, will face will be released later by the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, Orput said. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Mugshot of former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter has been released. She was booked into the Hennepin County jail at 12:07 p.m. today. pic.twitter.com/DBtuziOMhu— Mara Gottfried (@MaraGottfried) April 14, 2021
Wright, 20, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn Center. Katie Wright said her son called her right before his death to say that police had pulled him over because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. It is illegal to drive in Minnesota with objects that are “suspended between the driver and the windshield,” other than sun visors, rearview mirrors, safety monitoring equipment, GPS systems, toll-collection devices or “identifying devices.”
Former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said during a press conference on Monday that officers initially pulled Wright over about 2 p.m. Sunday because the registration tags on his license plates were expired. He also said officers took note of the air freshener on Wright’s rearview mirror.
Officers decided to arrest Wright after learning there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest following an incident in which police suspect he fled from them after being reported waiving a gun. As he was being handcuffed, Wright, who was unarmed, freed himself from the grasp of police and got into the driver’s seat of his vehicle.
Potter, a field-training officer who was on the scene in that capacity, attempted to deploy her Taser, but mistakenly grabbed her firearm, Gannon said.
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Body camera video shows Potter yelling “I’ll tase you! I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” while pointing her department-issued handgun at Wright. She fires one shot in his chest before screaming, “Holy s–t! I shot him!”
Both Potter and Gannon resigned from their positions on Tuesday morning.
In her resignation letter sent to city officials on Tuesday, Potter, a 26-year veteran of the department, wrote she had “loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department and my fellow officers if I resign immediately.”
Potter could not immediately be reached for comment. Her attorney, Earl Gray, said Wednesday morning that he was unable to talk at the moment.
The shooting prompted protests outside the police department in Brooklyn Center. Officers from the Minnesota State Patrol, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minneapolis Police Department arrested 79 people on Tuesday. Arrests were for a range of charges including inciting riot and unlawful assembly, according to Operation Safety Net.
The shooting occurred during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd last May.
Benjamin Crump, the attorney who is representing Floyd’s family, also has been retained by Wright’s family.
“When you think about the fact that Daunte was trying to get away, he was not a threat to them,” Crump said Tuesday. “Was it the best decision? No. But young people don’t always make the best decisions. As his mother said, he was scared.” Crump noted Potter’s experience as a police officer was longer than Wright’s entire life.
Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said the fact that Chauvin’s trial is underway only serves to offer further explanation for Wright’s actions. “Can you blame Daunte for being afraid?”
The family and their lawyers have set up a GoFundMe page to pay for Wright’s funeral and burial expenses, as well as support to Daunte’s son, Daunte Wright, Jr., 2, “and to help the Wright family in the fight for justice.” No funds will go toward legal costs, according to the page.
As of Wednesday morning, almost $600,000 had been raised.