UPDATED: 12:25 pm. ET, April 14
The former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black man in Minnesota is facing serious criminal charges, but murder is not among them, the lead prosecutor announced.
If convicted, Potter faces a penalty is no more than 10 years or a fine of up to $20,000.
Potter, who was an officer with the Brooklyn Center Police department since 1995, tendered her resignation on Tuesday.
Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing Wright’s family, issued the following statement on behalf of his loved ones:
“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. 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. 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.”
This is a developing story that will be updated.
On Monday night, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension identified the officer who shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center on Sunday.
BCA officials named Kim Potter as the cop who fatally shot Wright and confirmed that she was placed on “standard administrative leave. According to the Star Tribune, Potter, 48, is a 26-year veteran of the force who served on the negotiation team.
She was hired as a Brooklyn Center police officer in 1995, five years before Wright was born. In 2019, she was elected president of the Brooklyn Center Police Officer’s Association.
Potter played a role in the 2019 police shooting of Kobe Dimock-Heisler, who was fatally shot after he allegedly rushed at officers with a knife inside a home. Potter was reportedly one of the first officers on the scene.
According to the Star Tribune:
“Potter instructed the two officers involved to ‘exit the residence, get into separate squad cars, turn off their body worn cameras, and to not talk to each other,” according to an investigative report from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Both officers’ actions were found to be justified, and no charges were filed.'”
Wright was shot to death on the afternoon of April 11 after he was pulled over during a traffic stop. Wright’s mother believed police stopped him because he was driving with air fresheners hanging from his rear-view mirror, which is deemed an infraction in Minnesota.
Police claim they stopped Wright over after noticing expired registration tags and discovered there was a warrant out for Wright’s arrest. When Wright attempted to re-enter his car, police attempted to detain him. As a struggle ensued, Potter fired, striking Wright while his girlfriend was in the passenger seat. The car drove for a few blocks before crashing into another vehicle and Wright died on the scene.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled Wright’s death a homicide, resulting from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Brooklyn Center police authorities released footage of the event, where Potter can be heard saying, “Holy s–t, I shot him,” moments after firing her gun. During a Monday press conference Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon categorized the shooting as an “accidental discharge,” incredulously summarizing that Wright was killed because Potter could not determine her taser from her handgun.
On social media, users were angered over the explanation which attempted to devalue the weight of systemic racism and unwarranted fears of Black communities held within police departments across America.
Potter’s name was revealed after a day of unrest in Brooklyn Center and greater Minneapolis, attempting to heal almost five years after the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, and nearly a year after the police killing of George Floyd.
On Monday the Brooklyn Center City Council passed a motion by a vote of 3-2 to give Mayor Mike Elliott “command authority” over the city’s police department, which was previously held under the authority of the city manager, Curt Boganey.
Bogeney was relieved of his duties shortly after, making way for Elliott to determine whether or not Potter should be terminated.
Elliott previously voiced that he supports her termination. Only time will tell.
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