Second-degree manslaughter is one of the counts Chauvin was charged with last year after video emerged showing him pinning George Floyd under his knee. Under Minnesota law, a person convicted of the charge can face up to 10 years behind bars and a fine of up to $20,000.
Potter was taken into custody by agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday; she was booked into the Hennepin County Jail just after noon, according to jail records.
The charge against Potter is relatively unusual, as police who shoot and kill people are rarely charged. While the shooting took place in Hennepin County, the county attorney there sent the case to Orput’s office in Washington County as part of an agreement to have prosecutors investigate police shootings in other jurisdictions to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest.
An attorney believed to be representing Potter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Washington County Attorney previously said he would explain his decision to the Wright family before announcing it to the public.
Wright’s family has stated that they will be unsatisfied with anything short of murder charges against Potter. “Prosecute them, like they would prosecute us,” Nyesha Wright, the victim’s aunt, said at a Tuesday news conference. “We want the highest justice.”
Ben Crump, an attorney for Wright’s family, likened Potter’s shooting of the 20-year-old to an “execution” and expressed disbelief that Potter, a 26-year veteran of policing, could allegedly mistake a gun for a Taser.
“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” Crump said in a statement Wednesday. “This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force.”
Her arrest makes Potter one of the rare police officers to face criminal charges for shooting someone while on duty.
The vast majority of the shootings are deemed justified, and only a small portion of officers face charges in such cases.
Prosecutors have also found police difficult to convict once such cases do move to a courtroom. Most police officers charged with murder or manslaughter for fatally shooting people are not convicted. And in the cases where officers are convicted, it is often on lesser charges.
The reasons, experts say, are often consistent from case to case, including that police have significant legal latitude to use force, including deadly force, and are viewed as trustworthy by judges and juries. Defense attorneys who have represented officers, though, say they wonder whether the public criticism of police and the spate of viral videos showing them using force could be chipping away at that.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott has called for Gov. Tim Walz (D) to hand over prosecution of Potter to the Minnesota Attorney General. Walz’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Religious leaders from a Brooklyn Center ministerial group gathered Wednesday afternoon to pray outside the police station.
Pastor Ezra Fagge’Tt, and his wife, Patricia Fagge’Tt were witnesses to Daunte Wright’s death, though they didn’t know he died until later. They minister to Unity Temple, across the street from the location of the traffic stop.
“We can’t put it into words — it’s one of those dissonant things,” Ezra Fagge’Tt said of his emotions. “When you are out to help humanity, teaching the word for souls to get a better lease on life, and see this happen again.”
The second-degree manslaughter charges brought little solace to him. He kept asking, “Why?”
“Why when you stop people of color, you automatically draw a weapon?” he said in an interview outside the police station. “I wish everybody loved God enough to love everyone. We are not asking for special treatment, we are asking for everyone to be treated alike.”
Patricia Fagge’Tt said she saw Potter fall to the ground after her gun went off during Sunday’s shooting.
“She fell to the ground with emotion,” she said. “My heart goes out to her. She made a mistake but it could have been avoided.”
She expressed hope racist police stops will end. “It brings attention to racial profiling,” Patricia Fagge’Tt said. “It is coming to light.”
Savo Santana drove up from Rochester yesterday to protest not only Daunte Wright’s death and George Floyd’s death, but also for himself as a Black man. “I struggle every day,” he said. “I just want to change. We are all tired.”Santana is dissatisfied with Potter’s 2nd degree manslaughter charge. “I feel like it should be first degree murder,” he said. “It was a homicide. It was intentional.”“It has all got to stop,” Santana added.
As the community braced for the charging decision, protesters took to the streets for a third straight night for vigils, marches and other demonstrations that spanned more than five hours. Mayors in surrounding cities such as Maple Grove, Minneapolis and Saint Paul ordered local curfews for Tuesday night; a 10 p.m. curfew was ordered in Brooklyn Center.
At least 60 people were arrested Tuesday, according to state and local law enforcement. In a news conference late Tuesday night, they said the majority of the arrests took place in Brooklyn Center for minor charges; an additional 13 people were arrested in nearby Minneapolis, mostly for curfew violations and burglary, said Amelia Huffman, a deputy chief with the Minneapolis Police Department.
Bellware reported from Chicago and Berman from Washington.