The former Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop was scheduled to make her first court appearance on Thursday.
Prosecutors will try to show that Kim Potter, 48, was “culpably negligent” and took an “unreasonable risk” in shooting Wright after pulling him over for expired license plates in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Sunday. If convicted of the charge of second-degree manslaughter, Potter, who is white, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Potter, who resigned on Tuesday after 26 years on the force, is due to appear in a Hennepin County courthouse at 1:30 p.m. CST (1730 GMT) on Thursday. Her lawyer, Earl Gray, did not respond to a request for comment. Potter was taken into custody by agents of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Wednesday. She was released hours later after posting $100,000 bond.
Police video of the shooting shows Potter threatening to stun Wright with her Taser before firing her handgun. Former Police Chief Tim Gannon, who also resigned on Tuesday, said she mistakenly used her service weapon instead of her Taser. In the video, Potter can be heard shouting: “Taser, Taser, Taser!” as she draws her weapon and opens fire on Wright in his car after he had just pulled away from a fellow officer.
She is then is heard saying: “Holy shit, I just shot him.” Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the Wright family, said the shooting reflected a broader problem of law enforcement officers in the United States having a propensity to “overpolice marginalized minorities, especially Black Men.”
But Crump said the move to charge Potter also represented progress following the lack of prosecutions of officers who shot and killed Black men such as Eric Garner and Michael Brown in recent years. “All this family is striving for is to get full accountability, get equal justice. Nothing more and nothing less,” Crump told a briefing.
The shooting escalated tensions in a region already on edge over the ongoing murder trial of white former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man. Hundreds of protesters massed outside Brooklyn Center police headquarters for a fourth night on Wednesday. About two dozen people were arrested on charges including curfew violations. The protests were smaller and more peaceful than on Tuesday night, when 72 people were arrested, police said.