Kim Potter, the Brooklyn Center police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, was arrested Wednesday morning and will soon be charged with second-degree manslaughter, officials say.
Potter, 48, of Champlin, was arrested about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday by Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents at the BCA in St. Paul. She was booked into the Hennepin County jail at 12:07 p.m., according to a jail roster.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said she will be charged later today.
“This remains an active and ongoing investigation,” BCA officials said in a news release. “The BCA has been and will continue to work with the Washington County Attorney’s Office as the case progresses.”
Wright, 20, was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn Center. Katie Wright said her son called her right before his death to say that police had pulled him over because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. It is illegal to drive in Minnesota with objects that are “suspended between the driver and the windshield,” other than sun visors, rearview mirrors, safety monitoring equipment, GPS systems, toll-collection devices or “identifying devices.”
Former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said during a press conference on Monday that officers initially pulled Wright over about 2 p.m. Sunday because the registration tags on his license plates were expired. He also said officers took note of the air freshener on Wright’s rearview mirror.
Officers decided to arrest Wright after learning there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest following an incident in which police suspect he fled from them after being reported waiving a gun. As he was being handcuffed, Wright, who was unarmed, freed himself from the grasp of police and got into the driver’s seat of his vehicle.
Potter, a field-training officer who on the scene in that capacity, attempted to deploy her Taser, but mistakenly grabbed her firearm, Gannon said.
Body camera video shows Potter yelling “I’ll tase you! I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” while pointing her department-issued handgun at Wright. She fires one shot in his chest before screaming, “Holy s–t! I shot him!”
Both Potter and Gannon resigned from their positions on Tuesday morning.
In her resignation letter sent to city officials on Tuesday, Potter, a 26-year veteran of the department, wrote she had “loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department and my fellow officers if I resign immediately.”
Potter could not immediately be reached for comment. Her attorney, Earl Gray, said Wednesday morning that he was unable to talk at the moment.
The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. According to state statute, a person is guilty of second-degree manslaughter if they cause another person’s death by “culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott wrote: “Daunte Wright like many other black and brown members of our community should be alive and at home with his family today.”
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter also posted his reaction to the news on Twitter. “Wright should still be alive today and there is no acceptable reason he’s gone,” he wrote. “This decision is only a start; our justice system must prove itself capable of asserting and protecting the value of black and brown lives.”
PROTESTS, ARRESTS, ANGUISH
The shooting prompted protests outside the police department in Brooklyn Center. Officers from the Minnesota State Patrol, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minneapolis Police Department arrested 79 people on Tuesday. Arrests were for a range of charges including inciting riot and unlawful assembly, according to Operation Safety Net.
The shooting death by police of Wright occurred as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd last May, nears its end.
“We recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said earlier this week. “We are all collectively devastated and we have been for over a year now by the killing of George Floyd, and that we continue to be distressed as we go through the Derek Chauvin trial.”
Benjamin Crump, the attorney who is representing Floyd’s family, also has been retained by Wright’s family.
“When you think about the fact that Daunte was trying to get away, he was not a threat to them,” Crump said Tuesday. “Was it the best decision? No. But young people don’t always make the best decisions. As his mother said, he was scared.” Crump noted Potter’s experience as a police officer was longer than Wright’s entire life.
Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said the fact that Chauvin’s trial is underway only serves to offer further explanation for Wright’s actions. “Can you blame Daunte for being afraid?”
COMMUNITY REACHES OUT
Wright’s family and their lawyers have set up a GoFundMe page to pay for Wright’s funeral and burial expenses, as well as support to Daunte’s son, Daunte Wright, Jr., 2, “and to help the Wright family in the fight for justice.” No funds will go toward legal costs, according to the site.
As of Wednesday morning, almost $600,000 had been raised.
More than 19,000 people have donated; donations have ranged from $5 to $5,000. Among the donors was Australian resident Janette Dalgliesh, who posted this note with her $20 gift: “Black Lives Matter. Sending love and support from Australia.”
“The road to justice is very long, and the Wright family will not let what happened to Daunte be forgotten,” according to the site. “The officer(s) who took his life must be held responsible.”