May 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Minnesota's AG to prosecute Daunte Wright manslaughter case

Kim Potter's booking photos.

Kim Potter's booking photos. Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Friday that his office will lead the prosecution of former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.

Why it matters: Ellison's office led the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd — a rare conviction of a police officer.

Context: During a traffic stop in April, Potter appeared to have inadvertently pulled out her gun and discharged it instead of a Taser when Wright tried to get back into his car during the encounter with officers, police said.

  • After firing her weapon, Potter can be heard on body camera video released by police saying, "‘Holy s**t, I just shot him."
  • Wright's death sparked protests and unrest across the Twin Cities as the Chauvin trial was underway.

What they're saying: "I did not seek this prosecution and do not accept it lightly," Ellison said in a statement Friday.

  • "Daunte Wright’s death was a tragedy. He should not have died on the day that he did. He should not have died the way that he did," he added.
  • "His parents, brothers, sisters, and friends must now live the rest of their lives without him. His son, only two years old, will grow up without his father."
  • "The community of Brooklyn Center and people across Minnesota also continue to grieve Daunte’s death. I join them in that grieving. His death is a loss to all of us."

The big picture: Ellison said he took the case at the request of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who accepted it from Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.

  • Orput had charged Potter with second-degree manslaughter. He faced intense pressure from activists demanding more serious charges, according to AP.
  • "I have had, and continue to have, confidence in how both County Attorney Orput and County Attorney Freeman have handled this case to date," Ellison said. "I thank County Attorney Orput for the solid work he and his office have done, and I thank County Attorney Freeman once again for his confidence in my office."

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