Officer who shot Daunte Wright charged with second-degree manslaughter (updated)

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Former Brooklyn Police Officer Kim Potter

After three days of unrest and protests demanding justice for the fatal police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced in a statement on Wednesday that former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter has been arrested and booked in the Hennepin County jail for probable cause second-degree manslaughter. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The Washington County Attorney’s Office formally charged Potter Wednesday afternoon. She has since been released from jail after posting a $100,000 bond and is expected to appear in court on Thursday.

Potter’s killing of Wright has been called “accidental” by the Brooklyn Center Police Department. During a media briefing on Monday, then-Police Chief Tim Gannon released Potter’s bodycam video that revealed, during a traffic stop, Wright was attempting to get back into his car after officers tried to arrest him A voice can be heard yelling, “taser, taser,” and then Potter points her handgun at Wright and shoots him. As Wright’s car rolls away, a voice can be heard saying, “Holy s%*t—I just shot him!”

Wright later died on the scene. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner has ruled his death a homicide.

On Tuesday, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott announced Potter had resigned, as well as Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon. In her resignation letter, Potter, a 26-year veteran of the department, said that she thought resigning at this time was “in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers.”

Although Mayor Elliott said immediately after Wright’s killing that he thought Potter should be fired, he said on Tuesday that both Potter and Gannon resigned on their own.

In spite of Potter’s resignation, activists and protesters have called for Mayor Elliott to fire her so she is unable to collect her pension and find work as a police officer elsewhere. When pressed by activists at the Tuesday press conference, the mayor said that he hadn’t yet accepted Potter’s resignation.

However, after the charges were filed, at a Wednesday afternoon press conference, acting City Manager Reggie Edwards said, “The officer did resign, and with that comes the obligation to be entitled to all [she’s] accrued and the benefits that are due.”

Wright’s killing has ignited tensions and still-simmering anger over recent police killings of unarmed Black people in the state. Protests and unrest have taken place in response to the most recent killing, with over 60 arrests as of Wednesday.

The Twin Cities metro area was already on high alert because of the Derek Chauvin trial, which is taking place less than 10 miles away from Brooklyn Center in downtown Minneapolis. Former Minneapolis officer Chauvin is charged with murdering George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Mayor Elliott said he would call on Gov. Walz to send Wright’s case to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. “This case needs to be appointed to the attorney general,” said Elliott, “so I am calling on the governor to exercise his authority and to move this case from Washington County [to] the jurisdiction of the attorney general. That needs to happen.”

The investigation is currently being handled by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Washington County Attorney’s Office.

—The MSR will continue to follow this story as it develops.