The former Minnesota police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old black man made her first appearance before a judge Thursday, a day after she was charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Kim Potter, 48, appeared briefly on Zoom. She was seated in the office of her attorney, Earl Gray, who spoke on her behalf and waived her right to hear the complaint against her. Potter spoke only to confirm her presence at the hearing.
Potter was ordered to appear in Hennepin County District Court again on May 17 and will remain free on a $100,000 bond, Judge Paul Scoggin said. She is barred from possessing or transporting firearms, ammunition and explosives during the duration of the case, he said in the hearing.
Potter, a 26-year-veteran of the force and former head of the local police union, was arrested and charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter. In charging documents, prosecutors said Potter’s “culpable negligence” caused Daunte Wright’s death and “created an unreasonable risk” when she shot him with her handgun instead of using her Taser.
Potter, who is white, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine if found guilty. She was released from jail Wednesday after posting bail.
Potter resigned Tuesday, the same day that Tim Gannon resigned as Brooklyn Center police chief. Gannon had said that Potter meant to discharge her Taser when Wright attempted to flee the scene, but mistakenly grabbed her firearm.
Authorities said Potter and another officer initially pulled Wright over for suspected motor-vehicle violations in the Minneapolis suburb Sunday, then tried to arrest him after learning he had an outstanding warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons charge. Potter fatally shot Wright as he resisted, police said.
The criminal complaint against Potter says her Taser is on the left side of her duty belt, and her gun is on the right. The grips of both face her rear, and that she would have had to use her left hand to draw the Taser.
At a news conference Thursday, Wright’s mother, Katie Wright said she feels like she will never get justice for her son. “Justice would be bringing our son home to us,” she said.
“The last few days, everybody has asked me what do we want to see happen,” Wright told a briefing at the Minneapolis church where her son’s funeral will be held April 22. “I do want accountability, 100 percent accountability. … But even when that happens, if that happens, we’re still going to bury our son.”
“It’s very difficult for this family to accept that this is an accident when you have a veteran who has been on the police force for 26 years,” Ben Crump, an attorney representing the Wright family, said at the news conference on Thursday.
Crump said the shooting reflected a broader problem of law enforcement in the US using excessive force and having a propensity to “overpolice marginalized minorities, especially black men” But the move to charge Potter also represented some progress, Crump said.
Wright’s death has sparked nights of protests in Brooklyn Center. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the police department Wednesday for the fourth straight night. About 24 people were detained on charges including violating the 10 pm curfew and rioting, authorities said. On Tuesday night, 72 people were arrested, police said.
Meanwhile, 10 miles away in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin said Thursday he would exercise his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself on the last day of testimony in the former Minneapolis police officer’s murder trial in the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin, who is white, has pleaded not guilty to second- and third-degree murder charges in the death of Floyd, a black man, on May 25, 2020. Prosecutors contend Floyd died due to Chauvin’s knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.