April 14, 2021
Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter will reportedly be charged with second-degree manslaughter, three days after she shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, an unarmed Black man. Officials assert Wright was killed during an ordinary traffic stop for expired registration tabs; his family has said he was pulled over because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. Potter, who resigned Tuesday from the police department in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where she’d served for more than a quarter-century, claimed she accidentally fired her gun at Wright after somehow mistaking the firearm for her service Taser.
Wright, who police say was resisting arrest over an outstanding warrant, is the latest unarmed Black man to be killed by law enforcement in Minnesota, and whose death has sparked intense protests and social justice rallies across the Twin Cities metro area. Despite the fact that it was a police officer who pulled the trigger on the wrong weapon during a routine traffic stop in the middle of the day, the head of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers’ Association insisted it was Wright who was to blame for his own police killing.
“You have to look at this situation as a chain of events,” MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters told local radio station WCCO on Wednesday.
“This is going to be an unpopular statement,” Peters, who leads the umbrella organization for the state’s multiple police unions, continued. “But you know, Daunte Wright, if he would’ve just complied, he was told he was under arrest, they were arresting him on a warrant for weapons, he set off a chain of events that unfortunately led to his death.”
“Unpopular” as Peters’s victim-blaming claim may be, it’s hardly surprising considering the MPPOA’s other major project at the moment: funding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s criminal defense in his ongoing trial for the murder of George Floyd nearly one year ago.
Both Potter and Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon have resigned in the wake of Wright’s death, and Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott has publicly called for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to oversee the case. It would be the second major police killing to be handled by Ellison’s office, which is currently leading the prosecution against Chauvin.
Should Potter be convicted of second-degree manslaughter, she faces up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.