The former Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright will face manslaughter charges, authorities say. Kim Potter was captured on body cam footage killing Mr Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Centre, Minnesota, which has sparked protests and unrest in the community.
Ms Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Centre Police Department, will be charged with second degree manslaughter in connection to Wright’s death, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput has announced.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, according to reports. She was arrested yesterday morning by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and was expected to be booked into Hennepin County jail.
While the killing took place in Hennepin County, Minnesota, the case was referred to Washington County prosecutors under a policy for police killings adopted in the Minneapolis area last year.
Brooklyn Centre Mayor Mike Elliott has already called on Minnesota Govenor Tim Walz to transfer jurisdiction from Washington County to state Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office.
Ms Potter resigned her badge, as did Brooklyn Centre Police Chief Tim Gannon, in the wake of the killing, and the police department is now under the control of Mayor Mike Elliott, who appointed a new acting chief of police.
Before he resigned, Chief Gannon said that Officer Potter had mistakenly drawn and fired her handgun instead of a taser weapon and that the death of Mr Wright was an accident.
The killing took place just 14 miles from the scene of George Floyd’s fatal arrest by Minneapolis Police Department, for which former police officer Derek Chauvin is currently on trial for murder.
Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office says that Mr Wright, who is Black, died of a gunshot wound to the chest, which means his death is a homicide. In the body cam footage Mr Wright, 20, is seen struggling with officers as they try and handcuff him outside his car.
A female voice can be heard shouting “taser” on the video as Mr Wright gets back into his car and drives away from the scene. The same female voice could then be heard saying, “holy shit, I just shot him,” as the car pulled away, police said.
Since quitting her job, Ms Potter left the state, and police installed concrete barriers around her home in a Minneapolis suburb. “I have loved every minute of being a police officer,” she wrote in her resignation letter, and said it was “in the best interest of the community, the department and fellow officers that I resign”.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Mr Wright’s family, welcomed the decision to charge Ms Potter. “While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” he said in a statement.
“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force. Driving while Black continues to result in a death sentence.
“A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a taser and a firearm. Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant.”