Ex-Minnesota cop faces hearing in shooting of Daunte Wright

Thursday, April 15, 2021

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (AP) — Black community leaders and family members of Daunte Wright were calling for more serious charges against a white police officer in Wright’s death, comparing her case to the murder charge brought against a Black officer who killed a white woman in nearby Minneapolis.

Former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter in Sunday’s shooting of Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop. The former police chief in Brooklyn Center, a majority nonwhite suburb, said Potter mistakenly fired her handgun when she meant to use her Taser. Both the chief and Potter resigned Tuesday. Potter was due for her initial court appearance Thursday.

However, protesters and Wright’s family members say there’s no excuse for the shooting and want Potter to face more serious charges.

“The family is glad she got charged but they do hope and pray for a day where they get equal justice,” Wright family attorney Ben Crump said Wednesday. “Why should we always get a fragment of justice?”

Advocates for Wright point to the 2017 case of Mohamed Noor. The Black former Minneapolis police officer fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white woman who was dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, in the alley behind her home after she called 911 to report what she thought was a woman being assaulted.

Noor was convicted of third-degree murder in addition to second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison. Potter’s charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Noor testified that he fired to protect his partner’s life after hearing a loud bang on the squad car and seeing a woman at his partner’s window raising her arm. Prosecutors criticized Noor for shooting without seeing a weapon or Damond’s hands.

Potter’s attorney has not spoken publicly or returned messages from The Associated Press about the shooting of Wright and the criminal case. Potter was released from the Hennepin County Jail late Wednesday on $100,000 bond.

Potter could have easily been charged with third-degree murder, which carries a 25-year maximum sentence, said Rachel Moran, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. But she noted that one key difference between the Noor and Potter cases is that Potter will likely argue using the gun was a mistake, while Noor never said he didn’t intend to use his weapon.

“This is kind of the compromise charge, which isn’t to say it’s not serious. It is,” Moran said. “But they’re not reaching for the most serious charge they could theoretically file. They’re also not washing their hands and saying she has no criminal liability.”

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