The former Brooklyn Center, Minn. police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright, 20, electronically faced a judge for the first time Thursday. Kim Potter, 48, is accused of second-degree manslaughter in the Sunday afternoon shooting which various authorities have characterized as unintentional but still criminal.
The hearing, which was held via Zoom videoconference, lasted approximately four minutes. Reporters were allowed to watch the hearing remotely and to write about its contents but were banned from recording the proceeding in any way.
Defense Attorney Earl Gray appeared on Potter’s behalf. Gray is also representing Thomas Lane, one of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death last year.
Potter did not enter a plea. She was visible only briefly as she sat across from Gray on the other side of what appeared to be a wooden conference table. Gray mostly kept the camera pointed at himself but moved it for just a few seconds to confirm that Potter was present. Potter was wearing what looked like a plaid flannel shirt.
Judge Paul R. Scoggin, who presided, said another judge was assigned to handle case as a whole.
Judge Scoggin asked if Potter’s address was accurate in a charging document filed Wednesday
“Yes, unfortunately,” Gray responded with a scoffing facial expression which expressed irritation at the reality that his client’s address is now a matter of public record in the midst of protests and controversy.
Gray waived a formal reading of the criminal complaint against Potter.
“You must remain law abiding,” the judge notified Potter. He also warned her she could not use, possess, or transport firearms, ammunition, or explosives.
The next court hearing in the case is scheduled for May 17 at 1:30 Central time, presumably before Judge Regina M. Chu.
The short hearing concluded when the defense and the state said they each had nothing further to add to the record.
According to jail records, Potter posted a $100,000 bond at 5:38 p.m. Wednesday evening. She had been booked into the Hennepin County Jail almost exactly five and a half hours earlier at 12:07 p.m.
It is unclear whether Potter returned to her home after posting bail. Concrete barriers and security fencing are assembled around the perimeter of her dwelling. Multiple squad cars were keeping watch over the residence when it was photographed Wednesday.
The nearby Washington County, Minnesota Attorney’s Office is handling the case to avoid any conflicts of interest — real or perceived. Brooklyn Center is in Hennepin County.
“Certain occupations carry an immense responsibility and none more so than a sworn police officer,” said Imran Ali, the Criminal Division Chief at the Washington County Attorney’s Office, in a prepared 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.”
Earlier on Thursday, Attorney Ben Crump joined members of Wright’s family to allege that white suspects are oftentimes not shot by police for conduct more severe than what was exhibited by Wright on Sunday. Crump, who is representing Wright’s family, suggested Potter and other officers should have allowed Wright to flee without drawing either a gun or a Taser. Since the officers knew Wright’s identity and knew where he lived, Crump rationed that the police could have dealt with the outstanding warrant for Wright’s arrest by locating him at another time at another place.
Cathy Russon contributed to this report.
[Image of Daunte Wright via Attorney Ben Crump and GoFundMe; image of Kim Potter via the Hennepin County, Minn. Jail]
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