Kim Potter appears in court as Wright family calls for ‘full accountability’
The former Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black motorist, during a traffic stop made her first court appearance on Thursday as the Wright family called for “full accountability” for his death. Kim Potter, wearing a plaid shirt, confirmed her presence during a brief online hearing and waved to the judge from a table in her lawyer’s office. Potter, 48, was not asked about the shooting or her intended plea.
The Hennepin county judge Paul Scoggin set the next court date for 17 May and ordered Potter, who is out on a $100,000 bond, not to use firearms or explosives for the duration of her case.
In charging Potter with second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors will try to show she was “culpably negligent” and took an “unreasonable risk” in shooting Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Sunday.
If convicted, Potter, who is white, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force, resigned on Tuesday.
Potter’s lawyer, Earl Gray, did not respond to a request for comment before the hearing.
Before the hearing, the Wright family and their lawyers gathered at the church in Minneapolis where his funeral will be held next Thursday to remember the father of a two-year-old son and press for an aggressive prosecution of Potter.
“The last few days, everybody has asked me what do we want to see happen,” Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said. “I do want accountability, 100% accountability ... But even when that happens, if that happens, we’re still going to bury our son.”
Police video of the shooting shows Potter threatening to stun Wright with her Taser before firing her handgun. Tim Gannon, the former police chief who also resigned on Tuesday, said she mistakenly used her service weapon instead of her Taser.
Many protesters and Wright’s family members have rejected that, saying either that they do not believe it or that the incident reflects bias in policing.
Nyesha Wright, Wright’s aunt, said: “Justice, what is justice? Do we get to see Daunte smile? We don’t get to see that.”
Wright’s death came as the broader Minneapolis area awaits the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the first of four officers charged in the killing of George Floyd last year.
Hundreds of protesters massed outside Brooklyn Center police headquarters for a fourth night on Wednesday. About two dozen people were arrested on charges including curfew violations. The protests were smaller and more peaceful than on Tuesday night, when 72 people were arrested, police said.
Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the Wright family, said the shooting reflected a broader problem of US law enforcement using excessive force and having a propensity to “overpolice marginalized minorities, especially Black men”.
But Crump said the move to charge Potter also represented some progress following the lack of prosecutions of officers involved in the deaths of Black men such as Eric Garner and Michael Brown in recent years.
“All this family is striving for is to get full accountability, get equal justice. Nothing more and nothing less,” Crump told the briefing at the New Salem Missionary Baptist church.
Attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown, a Black man killed by deputies last week, said on Tuesday an independent autopsy showed he was shot five times, including in the back of the head. “It was a kill shot to the back of the head,” one attorney, Ben Crump, told reporters. “It went into the base of the neck, bottom of the skull and got lost in his brain. That was the cause of death.” Another lawyer, Wayne Kendall, said Brent Hall, a former medical examiner in Boone, North Carolina, hired by the Brown family, had examined Andrew Brown’s body.
The city of Minneapolis and the nation at large began a tense waiting game Monday after closing arguments were heard in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who’s charged with the murder of George Floyd. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher told the jury that Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes was murder, not policing.
“George Floyd was not a threat to anyone. He wasn't trying to hurt anyone. He wasn't trying to do anything to anyone,” Schleicher said.
Former police officer Kimberly Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday after fatally shooting the 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright, officials said. The white former suburban Minneapolis police officer was arrested earlier in the day in relation to the shooting dead of Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis. The killing of Wright ignited days of unrest and clashes between protesters and police. The charge against Potter was filed on Wednesday, three days after Wright was killed.
The Brooklyn Center police chief and the white cop who fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday after apparently mistaking her handgun for a Taser have both resigned. “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 the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately,” Potter said in a letter announcing her resignation to Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot and other city officials. Police Chief Tim Gannon has resigned from the department.