Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer who resigned after shooting to death unarmed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, Sr. has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Washington County, Minnesota attorney, Pete Orput, announced the charge on Wednesday.
Potter, a White, 26-year veteran, said she mistook her firearm for a taser when she shot the young African American father.
The Minnesota statute notes that second-degree manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison or possibly a $20,000 fine, applies when a person causes someone’s death by culpable negligence and creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm.
Following the incident, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon also handed in his resignation.
“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back. This was no accident,” Civil Rights Lawyer Ben Crump stated.
Crump, the attorney for the family of George Floyd, also represents the Wright family.
“This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force. Driving while Black continues to result in a death sentence,” Crump said.
“A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a taser and a firearm. Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant. Daunte’s life, like George Floyd’s life, like Eric Garner’s, like Breonna Taylor’s, like David Smith’s, meant something.
“But Kim Potter saw him as expendable. It’s past time for meaningful change in our country. We will keep fighting for justice for Daunte, his family, and all marginalized people of color. And we will not stop until there are meaningful policing and justice reform and until we reach our goal of true equality.”
A study in 2019 of about 100 million traffic stops in America concluded that African American drivers were 20% more likely to get pulled over by police than Whites.
Conducted by 11 university scholars, the study found that Black drivers were less likely to be stopped after sunset when a “veil of darkness” masks one’s race, suggesting bias in stop decisions.
Further, by examining the rate at which stopped drivers were searched and the likelihood that searches turned up contraband, the researchers found evidence that the bar for searching Black and Hispanic drivers was lower than that for searching White drivers.
They also found that legalization of recreational marijuana reduced the number of searches of White, Black, and Hispanic drivers. But the bar for searching Black and Hispanic drivers was still lower than that for White drivers post-legalization.
The researchers said their results indicate that police stops and search decisions suffer from “persistent racial bias and point to the value of policy interventions to mitigate these disparities.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has posted what individuals should do if stopped by the police on its website.
The rights of those pulled over include:
- You have the right to remain silent. For example, you do not have to answer any questions about where you are going, where you are traveling from, what you are doing, or where you live. If you wish to exercise your right to remain silent, say so out loud. (In some states, you may be required to provide your name if asked to identify yourself, and an officer may arrest you for refusing to do so.)
- You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings, but police may pat down your clothing if they suspect a weapon. Note that refusing consent may not stop the officer from carrying out the search against your will, but making a timely objection before or during the search can help preserve your rights in any later legal proceeding.
- If you are arrested by police, you have the right to a government-appointed lawyer if you cannot afford one.
- You do not have to answer questions about where you were born, whether you are a U.S. citizen, or how you entered the country. (Separate rules apply at international borders and airports and individuals on certain nonimmigrant visas, including tourists and business travelers).
(For detailed information about rights, what to do when pulled over, if your rights are violated, or if you are a victim of or witness police brutality, go to <www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/stopped-by-police/>.)