Court Battles

Minnesota AG ups charges against ex-police officer in shooting of Daunte Wright

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has upgraded the charges against a former police officer to first-degree manslaughter over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in April.

Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter in April after she was captured on body camera footage in April shooting Wright during a traffic stop.

In an amended complaint filed Thursday, prosecutors charged Potter with “first degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/handling of a firearm.”

The complaint alleges that Potter caused Wright’s death “while committing the misdemeanor offense of reckless handling or use of a firearm so as to endanger the safety of another with such force and violence that death or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable.”

Potter is set to stand trial Dec. 6.

Wright’s death sparked outrage in Minnesota and across the country, occurring during the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who would later be sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

Body camera footage of the incident showed Potter assisting another officer as they attempted to arrest Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, on an outstanding warrant. When Wright jumps back into his car, Potter appears to shout “tase him” before pointing her gun at him and shooting.

Thomas Gannon, the Brooklyn Center police chief at the time, said it appeared that Potter meant to deploy her stun gun, but accidentally grabbed her handgun. 

Potter, who was a 26-year-veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, resigned two days after the incident, as did Gannon. Potter was released from jail after posting bond.

In a statement Thursday, Ellison said that while the original second-degree murder charge was appropriate, he “also concluded that an upgraded charge of first-degree manslaughter is warranted.”

The first-degree murder charge comes with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Potter was already facing a up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for the second-degree murder charge.

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