The Killing of Daunte Wright: Officer Kim Potter Will Be Charged in Fatal Shooting of Minneapolis 20-Year-Old
Officer Kim Potter, who resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department, will face charges of second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Daunte Wright, a prosecutor on the case said.
The officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop will be charged with second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor on the case told the New York Times Wednesday. The charges come a day after Officer Kim Potter and Chief Tim Gannon both resigned from the department.
“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” the attorney representing Wright and his family, Ben Crump, said after news of charges was revealed.
“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.”
Wright was shot during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon by former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, who claimed to have intended to pull out her taser but instead grabbed her gun and fired a single fatal bullet.
The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. Both Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon have since resigned.
During a press conference Tuesday, the aunt of Wright, who was fatally shot Sunday afternoon by an officer in a Minneapolis suburb, revealed that her nephew had a connection to George Floyd.
"The craziest thing is to find out today that my family has connections to this man, to this family. His girlfriend was a teacher for my nephew," Naisha Wright, Daunte's aunt, revealed Tuesday.
Courteney Ross, Floyd's girlfriend, had once taught Daunte Wright when he was a student at Edison High School in Minneapolis. Ross was in a relationship with Floyd for three years after meeting in August 2017. She has testified for the prosecution in the trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin.
Here is everything we know about the killing of Daunte Wright.
Daunte Wright Was Killed After Being Pulled Over for a Traffic Violation
Police say Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation regarding expired registration tags. Officers then discovered he had an "outstanding warrant" just before 2 p.m. on Sunday, police said.
When police attempted to arrest Wright, police say he tried to get back into his car. At this moment, Officer Potter pulled out a handgun and shot the driver, later identified as Wright, who then drove a few blocks before colliding with another car, CBS Minnesota reported.
None of the passengers in the second car were injured, according to then-Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police told reporters.
When he was pulled over, police also noticed air fresheners in his rear-view, which is prohibited in Minnesota.
Minnesota is one of several states where air fresheners are prohibited from hanging in a vehicle's rearview mirror on the ground of it "obstructing a driver's vision." But this law has often been understood by some people to be a tactic to target specifically Black drivers as a probable reason to stop them and check for other violations like drug or weapon searches, the Daily Beast noted.
An "outstanding" warrant for Wright's arrest was a result of his failure to appear in court on April 2 for a charge regarding an unlicensed gun he was allegedly caught in possession of, according to Hennepin County District Court records obtained by Inside Edition Digital. It is unclear if Wright knew he had a missed court hearing, Wright's attorney for the gun charges told the Daily Beast.
Upon searching the car, police did not find any firearm in Wright's vehicle.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension began investigating the shooting after the incident unraveled, KSTP reported. Officer Kim Potter was placed on administrative leave, pending a full investigation.
Daunte Wright's Mother, Katie Wright, Says She Was on the Phone With Her Son in the Minutes Before He Was Killed
Wright's mother, Katie Wright, confirmed her son's identity to protesters late Sunday, CBS Minnesota reported. She was on the phone with her son minutes leading up to his death.
Wright's mother said that her son's girlfriend was in the passenger seat of the car during the traffic stop. She was taken to the hospital and is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Wright's mother told protesters that her son called her to say he was getting pulled over.
"Mom, I'm getting pulled over," he told her. "They're asking about insurance."
She recalls hearing officers instructing him to get out of the car and would explain once he got out. She then said she heard officers telling him to put his phone down and heard someone say not to run. She said the call was then ended.
She also added that she gifted her son the car just two weeks ago.
"I just want people to know that if you get pulled over, make sure you put your hands up and don't make any sudden moves, and don't have air fresheners in your car because that's why he got pulled over. And he was only 20 years old and he didn't deserve to be shot and killed like this," Wright's mother said, according to CBS Minnesota.
The mother said her son was pulled over "because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror," The New York Times reported.
"And I don't want all of this, all of this. I just want my baby home," Wright's mother said. "That's all I want is I want him to be home. I don't want everybody out here chanting and screaming, yelling. I just want him home. That's it."
The young man's death sparked massive protests, with hundreds of people gathering at the crash scene Sunday afternoon near the Brooklyn Center.
Wright's killing took place less than 10 miles away from the courthouse where former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd.
National Guard troops reported to the scene near the Brooklyn Center police department and deployed tear gas and flashbangs in the early morning hours, CBS Minnesota reported.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot announced a curfew for the city would be in place until 6 a.m.
"We want to make sure everyone is safe. Please be safe and please go home," he wrote on Twitter.
More than 20 businesses were reportedly broken into during the unrest Sunday evening. By around midnight protesters had fled from the police department when National Guardsmen arrived.
Body-Worn Police Camera Footage Includes Moment Potter Shot Daunte Wright. She Claims She Meant to Grab Her Taser.
After an evening of protests, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot lifted a citywide curfew at 6 a.m. Come morning, officials from the Brooklyn Center Police Department and Mayor's office spoke to reporters.
Body-worn footage was released during a press conference Monday, revealing the moments leading up to Daunte Wright's killing.
"Taser! Taser!' officer Potter could be heard yelling on the body-worn camera footage released by police Monday, which included the moment Wright was shot. Potter is then seen grabbing her handgun and firing a bullet.
"Holy s***, I shot him," she says.
Gannon confirmed to reporters Monday that an officer, later identified as Potter, shot Wright after pulling him over for a traffic violation, the Times reported.
Gannon told reporters that after reviewing body-worn camera footage of the shooting, it appeared to be an "accidental discharge" of the officer's gun.
Gannon said, "the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet."
"We cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession,” Mayor Mike Elliot said Monday afternoon, in reference to police officers. "I do feel comfortable releasing the officer of her duties."
"Daunte Wright is yet another young Black man killed at the hands of those who have sworn to protect and serve all of us — not just the whitest among us," the Wright family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, the attorney most notable for serving as the lead spokesperson for the family of Trayvon Martin, told reporters.
"As Minneapolis and the rest of the country continue to deal with the tragic killing of George Floyd, now we must also mourn the loss of this young man and father. This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane."
On Monday, the Hennepin County medical examiner ruled Wright's death a homicide. He died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Kim Potter Submits Her Resignation And Wednesday Was Arrested and Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter in Daunte Wright's Death
Officer Kim Potter submitted a resignation letter earlier Tuesday “in the best interest of the community,” she wrote in the notice obtained by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She was with the department for 26 years and served as the president of the police union.
The 48-year-old officer was initially placed on administrative leave after Sunday’s shooting but on Tuesday she announced her resignation to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon and Mayor Mike Elliot.
“I have 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 wrote.
Although Potter submitted her resignation, the mayor’s office says it is still “reviewing the matter” and has not yet made the resignation official.
"We did not ask her to resign," Mayor Elliot said. "That was a decision she made."
"We're doing our internal process to make sure that we are being accountable to the steps that we need to take," Elliott told reporters.
Earl Gray, a St. Paul-based attorney representing Potter, is also the attorney for one of the four officers charged with murder in the George Floyd case, CNN reported.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon also resigned. In his place, Cmdr. Tony Gruenig will be acting chief, the mayor said.
Meanwhile, protests have continued into Wednesday, and dozens have been arrested as demonstrators and police clash at Brooklyn Center.
Potter was arrested Wednesday morning at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul. She has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, according to the Associated Press.
“Certain occupations carry an immense responsibility and none more so than a sworn police officer,” Imran Ali, Washington County assistant criminal division chief, said in a statement announcing the charge. “[Potter’s] action caused the unlawful killing of Mr. Wright and she must be held accountable.”
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