Prosecutor under pressure to add murder charges against officer who killed Daunte Wright

Katie Wright and family members are flanked by supporters as several hundred people marched Sunday demanding murder charges be brought against Kim Potter.
Photo by King Demetrius Pendleton

Protesters demand murder charges for killer cop

“Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell,” is just one of the chants that filled the air under overcast skies in Brooklyn Center on Sunday, May 2. Several hundred took to the streets led by family members of Daunte Wright demanding that his killer, former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, be charged with second-and third-degree murder.

“The day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more. The day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more,” the crowd sang along with local artist Jayanthi Kyle at the beginning of the march. “But while my sister ain’t equal and my brother can’t breathe, hand in hand with my family we will fill these streets.”

The march began near the corner of 63rd Avenue North and Kathrene Drive in Brooklyn Center where Wright was killed by Potter on April 11. It ended at the Brooklyn Center police station.

“He had so much life ahead of him,” said Katie Wright, the victim’s mother. “We are at a loss, all because of a racist police officer who wanted to take his life for a minor traffic stop. They are charging her with second-degree manslaughter. We are not OK with that,” she said to cheers from the crowd.

“She needs to be charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter,” continued Wright. “Until then we will continue to speak out. We will continue to say his name. We will continue to protest. We want one hundred percent accountability, and that means charging this case correctly.”

(l-r) Nekima Levy Armstrong, Jaylani Hussein of CAIR Minnesota debate Pete Orput and his wife outside of his house in Stillwater.
Photo by Chris Juhn

Toshira Garraway of Families Supporting Families against Police Violence was among several who spoke at the event. She promised that families who have lost loved ones to police violence will provide the kind of support that many of them did not receive. Garraway reminded the audience of all the lives stolen by police violence and families that are still suffering whose cases have yet to be re-opened.

Garraway called out the hypocrisy of legislators showing up to funerals and pretending care when they could have prevented Wright’s death.

Some activists protested weeks ago outside the Stillwater home of Washington County Attorney Peter Orput, who is prosecuting the case. While most of his neighbors greeted the protesters politely, a few took issue with their presence. Two Stillwater correctional officers, Paul Gorder and Earl Shim, were filmed harassing protesters. Gorder’s wife was caught on tape using the N-word, and Shim had to be detained by Stillwater police to prevent him from attacking peaceful protesters.

Orput has insisted that the second-degree manslaughter charges are sufficient and defended his decision not to increase the charges to second- or third-degree murder. When confronted by the protesters at his home asking why he wouldn’t increase the charge to murder, he responded by saying, “I chose not to” and “I won’t give in to this.” He also told protesters that he had consulted with other trial attorneys across the nation, implying that they were primarily People of Color.

Photo by King Demetrius Pendleton A banner at the march

Orput had come under fire in fall 2019 while serving on a panel on bail and bail reduction put on by the Minneapolis Foundation. He was accused of using offensive and stereotypical language when describing certain kinds of inmates.

When confronted by members of the audience, Orput took a defensive posture and later initiated a confrontation with former Hennepin County public defender Mary Moriarty outside of the meeting room after the panel ended. Orput got so upset that Minneapolis Foundation representatives had to ask him to either calm down or leave.

Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison has refused to take the case, although though Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, along with many others in the community, have urged Governor Tim Walz to have Ellison’s office intervene. Ellison has publicly voiced confidence in Orput’s ability to handle the case.