Officer Kim Potter, shot and killed Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop last Sunday in Brooklyn Center. Potter was arrested Wednesday by Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and charged with 2nd degree manslaughter in the shooting death. If convicted on this charge, she could serve a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Wright died from the gunshot wound to the chest. Hennepin County Medical Examiner listed homicide as the manner of death.
In television interviews following the incident, Wright's mother, Katie Wright, said her son called her as he was being approached by the officers. She said she could hear officers telling her son get out of the car.
She said the call ended but minutes later she reconnected in a video call, and her son's girlfriend answered and told her that Wright had been shot.
"She pointed the phone toward the driver's seat, and my son was laying there unresponsive," Katie Wright said. "That was the last time that I have seen my son. That was the last time I've heard from my son, and I have had no explanation since then."
Area residents clashed nightly since Sunday with Brooklyn Center police in rallies to protest the killing. As protests moved into the evening, some people looted businesses in the nearby Shingle Creek Mall. Some 20 businesses were broken into. Some looting activity was also reported in North Minneapolis, at phone store businesses and a drugstore chain.
The Minnesota National Guard was deployed to support local police in protecting the police headquarters and to finally disperse protestors as the night wore on. The protests have continued daily despite State declared night time curfews for Hennepin County and surrounding Ramsey and Anoka Counties. Guard troops have been deployed in other parts of Minneapolis including downtown.
Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon said the officer “accidentally” drew her handgun and not her taser and shot Wright. He released bodycam video of the incident in a press event Monday. By Tuesday, both Potter and the chief resigned their posts, amid community residents call for their firing.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott asked Brooklyn Center City Council for and received emergency control of the police department, which was under control of City Manager Curt Boganey. Brooklyn Center’s charter establishes the City Council with power to manage city departments, including the police department, under the control of the city manager, who reports to the Council.
Boganey was fired by the Council on a 4-1 vote Monday when he did not acquiesce to Council demands that he fire the Chief immediately. The Council named Deputy City Manager Reggie Edwards to the position. Whether Gannon and Potter’s departures are accepted as resignations, or as firing may impact pensions and other considerations they which they might be entitled. As late as Tuesday, the mayor had not determined whether the resignation tendered by Potter was being formally accepted by the city.
Brooklyn Center is about 10 miles north of Downtown Minneapolis where the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd last May, is underway. Floyd also was unarmed and handcuffed when he was fatally restrained by Chauvin and other officers responding to a call alleging Floyd passed a counterfeit $20 bill in purchasing a pack of cigarettes in Cup Foods store in South Minneapolis.
Authorities say Wright was shot as he was getting back into his car. He drove away and died moments later when his car crashed into another vehicle. Life saving measures were performed at the scene of the crash, but Wright was pronounced dead. His body remained at the scene for several hours as bystanders assembled in outrage. No one in the second vehicle was injured. His girlfriend was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-lethal injuries.
As Daunte took his last breaths, the “Rally for Justin Teigen and all Other Stolen Lives” was underway on the other side of town in St. Paul. The Rally was assembled by Toshira Galloway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, an organization committed to supporting the families impacted by police violence. A large group peacefully assembled to lift up the father of Toshira’s child Justin Teigen who was killed by St. Paul Police 10 years ago.
During this vigil and peaceful assembly, participants were notified that yet another life had been stolen. The crowd dispersed and went to the site where Daunte had been pronounced dead. Leaders did what they could to support the growing grieving crowd. Despite encouraging words from community activists Chauntyll Allen, Toshira Galloway, and Toussaint Morrison the crowd continued to grow in size and agitation.
Brooklyn Center is a community of about 30,000 and is, perhaps, Minnesota's most diverse city. The city is described as minority-majority, meaning there are more people of color than whites. The police force of about 50, however, is about 10 percent persons of color.
"A badge should never be a shield to accountability. Daunte Wright was brutally killed by a police officer, and justice must prevail," said Derrick Johnson, national president of the NAACP revealing national reaction to this incident, at a time when former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin is on trial in the death of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide protests against racism and renewed calls to end police brutality last summer.
Several police shootings in Twin Cities in recent years amplify the tension over police violence and accountability.
Minneapolis police Officer Mohamed Noor was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the slaying of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. The officer said he mistook her for a "threat" and fired a fatal shot.
He was sentenced to 12½ years in prison.
In 2017, a jury acquitted St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez of fatally shooting Philando Castile, a Black school cafeteria worker, during a traffic stop in 2016.
The incident was livestreamed on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend and passenger, Diamond Reynolds. Castile was shot several times while he was reaching for his ID. Castile told Yanez that he had a gun permit and that he was armed.
Police said Clark was reaching for their weapons during a struggle; critics of the decision not to file charges said he was unarmed and did not need to be shot.