Local prosecutors in Minnesota on Wednesday are expected to charge former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, as civil unrest has persisted for three consecutive nights, with demonstrations spilling into Minneapolis.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput is expected to announce the second-degree manslaughter charge later Wednesday. Orput did not immediately return a voicemail left by Fox News on Wednesday.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, according to The Associated Press. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, KSTP and Minnesota Public Radio all reported Orput’s expected charging announcement.
Orput said Tuesday that he is reviewing information about the Potter case and would announce a charging decision by Wednesday, Fox 9 Minneapolis reported. While the shooting happened in Hennepin County, prosecutors referred the case to nearby Washington County — a practice county attorneys in the Minneapolis area adopted last year in handling police deadly force cases, the AP reported.
The incident happened just 10 miles from where Chauvin was seen in the viral bystander video pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck and back on the pavement in front of Cup Foods in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. The trial for Chauvin continues Wednesday.
Potter was arrested Wednesday morning for the April 11 shooting death of Wright, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the incident, announced via Twitter. Agents took Potter into custody at approximately 11:30 a.m. CT at the BCA headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott used his press conference Tuesday to call on Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to transfer jurisdiction from Washington County to state Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office. Both Potter, who had worked for the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years, and Police Chief Tim Gannon resigned on Tuesday.
Gannon on Monday, going against advice from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, made the decision to release body camera footage of the fatal incident. At his press conference, the chief said he believed the female officer intended to reach for her Taser, but grabbed her handgun instead, categorizing the incident as an “accidental discharge.”
Police said officers pulled Wright over for expired tags, but after running his driver’s license, leaned he had a warrant for his arrest.
Body-camera footage shows Wright struggling with police when a female officer shouts, “I’ll Tase you! I’ll Tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” She draws her weapon after the man breaks free from police and gets back into the car. After firing a single shot, the car speeds away, and Potter says, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”
Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights attorney representing the families of Floyd and Wright, claimed in a statement released in reaction to the charge decision that Potter shooting Wright was “no accident,” as “driving while Black continues to result in a death sentence.”
“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back. This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force. Driving while Black continues to result in a death sentence,” Crump said Wednesday in a joint statement with co-counsel Jeff Storms and Antonio Romanucci.
“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,” the statement continued. “Daunte’s life, like George Floyd’s life, like Eric Garner’s, like Breonna Taylor’s, like David Smith’s meant something. But Kim Potter saw him as expendable. It’s past time for meaningful change in our country. 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.”
Police and demonstrators faced off for the third consecutive night Tuesday, with crowds gathering again at Brooklyn Center’s heavily guarded police headquarters, now ringed by concrete barriers and a tall metal fence, and where police in riot gear and National Guard soldiers stood watch.
About 90 minutes before a 10 p.m. curfew, state police announced over a loudspeaker that the gathering had been declared unlawful and ordered the crowds to disperse. That quickly set off confrontations, with demonstrators launching fireworks toward the station and throwing objects at police, who launched flashbangs and gas grenades, and then marched in a line to force back the crowd.
“You are hereby ordered to disperse,” authorities announced, warning that anyone not leaving would be arrested. The state police said the dispersal order came before the curfew because demonstrators were trying to take down the fencing and throwing rocks at police
Police also ordered all media to leave the scene.
On Tuesday, Crump spoke outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis where fired police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial in Floyd’s death. Crump compared Wright’s death after resisting to that of Floyd, who was pinned down by officers during an arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 at a neighborhood market last May.
Daunte Wright “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.”
According to Hennepin County District Court documents obtained by Fox News, Wright was charged with first-degree aggravated robbery in a December 2019 incident in Osseso, Minn. He was released on $100,000 bail. His bail was revoked in July because he allegedly possessed a firearm and was not keeping in touch with his probation officer.
Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the medical examiner.
Potter reportedly was training a new officer in the field Sunday at the time of the incident. She became president of the Brooklyn Center Police Officer’s Association in 2019. In her one-paragraph letter of resignation, Potter said, “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.”
Police in the Minneapolis suburb of Champlin have also erected concrete barriers around Potter’s home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.