Former Brooklyn Center, Minn., Police Officer Kimberly Potter was arrested and will be charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced it had arrested Potter at approximately 11:30 a.m. and that charges would be filed later in the day. While Wright’s death during a Sunday traffic stop occurred in Hennepin County, it was referred to nearby Washington County to avoid a conflict of interest in the prosecution, with the BCA handling the investigation. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Officials have said Wright was pulled over for expired registration, at which point they noticed he also had an object hanging from his rearview mirror. When they ran his name, it showed an open warrant, and when Wright attempted to get back in the car as the police tried to arrest him, Potter shot him. In the bodycam footage, Potter says, “Oh, shit, I just shot him,” after threatening Wright with a Taser.
A 26-year veteran of the force, Potter was training another officer on Sunday when Wright was killed, according to the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and additional reporting from the New York Times.
Potter had been placed on administrative leave but penned a resignation Tuesday, writing, “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.” Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon also resigned on Tuesday.
“This appears to me, from what I viewed, and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” Gannon said Monday, stating that he believed Potter meant to draw her Taser instead of her gun.
The Hennepin County medical examiner stated Monday that Wright “died of a gunshot wound of the chest and manner of death is homicide.”
Wright’s death occurred during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer facing charges of both murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last year. In 2016, Philando Castile was killed by police in the area during a traffic stop for a broken taillight. Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in a trial the following year on charges of second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm.
Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, said Sunday that he called her after he was pulled over, adding, “All he did was have air fresheners in the car, and they told him to get out of the car.”
“He called me at about 1:30,” Katie Wright said. “He said he was getting pulled over by the police. And I said, ‘Why you getting pulled over?’ And he said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror. I said, ‘OK, take them down.’”
The warrant for Wright’s arrest had been issued earlier this month after he missed a court appearance for two misdemeanor charges filed last year: carrying a pistol without a permit and running from officers. There was no gun found in his car.
Potter previously served as the president of the Brooklyn Center police union and was on the scene in 2019 when police shot and killed Kobe Dimock-Heisler, an autistic man who was allegedly threatening them with a knife. According to a report from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Potter was one of the first to arrive on the scene and instructed the officers involved “to exit the residence, get into separate squad cars, turn off their body worn cameras, and to not talk to each other.” Potter was present for subsequent interviews of the officers, and no charges were filed in the case.
Jeff Storms, an attorney for Wright’s family, dismissed the idea of the death as an accident at a Tuesday press conference.
“An accident is knocking over a glass of milk,” Storms said. “It’s not an accident to pull your gun out of your holster. It’s not an accident to point your gun. It’s not an accident to ignore the fact that what you’re holding doesn’t weigh the same amount as the Taser you’ve used in training hundreds of times.
“So don’t tell us it’s an accident,” Storms added, “because it undermines the tragic loss of life that this family has experienced.”
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