The former Brooklyn Center, Minn. police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright, 20, will be prosecuted by the same office that secured former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction in April 2021.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison made the announcement on Friday that he will lead the prosecution and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank will “supervise the case” against 48-year-old Kim Potter. Frank was one of several prosecutors who presented the state’s case in court that Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Ellison said that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman requested that the Attorney General’s office handle the case after the Washington County Attorney’s Office that brought manslaughter charges against Potter “returned the case to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office,” as the press release put it.
Ellison said in a statement that Daunte Wright’s death “was a tragedy.”
“He should not have died on the day that he did. He should not have died the way that he did. His parents, brothers, sisters, and friends must now live the rest of their lives without him. His son, only two years old, will grow up without his father. I have privately expressed my condolences and sorrow to the family and expect to work with them closely throughout the proceedings,” he said.
Ellison said he “did not seek this prosecution and do not accept it lightly.”
“Prosecutors are ministers of justice. This means we must and will follow justice wherever it leads. I promise the Wright family and all Minnesotans that I will handle this prosecution responsibly and consistent with the law, and that I will be guided by the values of accountability and transparency. No one, however, should expect this case will be easy to prosecute. History shows that this case, like all cases of officer-involved deaths by deadly force, will be difficult,” Ellison continued. “We are not destined to repeat history. Once again, we in Minnesota find ourselves at a moment where a deadly-force encounter with police has galvanized our grief and focused our attention. If prosecutors ensure that prosecutions are vigorous and swift, if legislators at every level pass long-overdue reforms, if police leadership demonstrates misconduct has no place in the profession, and if community continues to keep up the cry for justice, we will break the cycle of history and establish a new standard for justice.”
Hennepin County Attorney Freeman added that it was the appropriate move to hand the case off to the Attorney General’s Office.
“The Attorney General, the Washington County Attorney, and I are following the protocol the five urban county attorneys signed last summer, which includes asking the Attorney General to take police use of deadly force cases. The Potter case is now appropriately in the hands of the Attorney General,” he said.
Potter is accused of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Wright during a traffic stop in April. During the stop, Potter drew her service weapon and fired. Wright, who was attempting to flee from custody, took off in a white sedan, crashed nearby, and subsequently died.
Potter had warned she was going to use a Taser on Wright but instead fired a bullet. Potter yelled “holy shit! I just shot him” as Wright sped away.
Since-resigned Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon called the shooting as an “accidental discharge” of a gun. He said Potter appeared to have made a mistake when she drew her gun, rather than her Taser, in an altercation with Wright which lasted only a few seconds. Gannon believed Wright didn’t realize she pulled the wrong weapon until after the gunshot rang out.
Potter’s body camera footage shows her drawing her gun and pulling the trigger.
Potter, who has not yet entered a plea, was released from jail in April after posting $100,000 bond.
Aaron Keller 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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