By Nick Pfosi and Gabriella Borter
The white police officer whose fatal shooting of a young Black motorist during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb ignited three nights of protests and civil unrest was arrested on Wednesday and charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department who turned in her badge on Tuesday, was taken into custody by agents of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at the agency’s office in nearby St. Paul, authorities said.
She was booked into Hennepin County jail and charged with second-degree manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, 20, on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, where she will await her first court appearance in the case, prosecutors said in a statement.
Potter, 48, was being held without bond, jail records showed.
Former city Police Chief Jim Gannon, who also resigned on Tuesday, has said police video shows Potter apparently drew her handgun instead of her Taser by mistake when she opened fire on Wright, after he broke away from a fellow officer and climbed back into his car.
Wright’s family members and their lawyer have rejected the notion that notion that an accident was to blame for Wright’s death.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office said Potter was acting as her partner’s field training officer at the time of the shooting.
“Certain occupations carry an immense responsibility and none more so than a sworn police officer,” Imran Ali, assistant criminal division chief and director of the major crimes unit for the County Attorney’s Office, said in the statement.
“We will vigorously prosecute this case and intend to prove that Officer Potter abrogated her responsibility to protect the public when she used her firearm rather than her Taser,” he said. “Her action caused the unlawful killing of Mr. Wright, and she must be held accountable.”
Wright was shot on Sunday after being pulled over for an expired automobile registration, and officers discovered there was a warrant out for his arrest, according to the official police account of the confrontation.
In police video of the incident, Potter can be heard shouting, “Holy sh*t, I just shot him,” after she fires a single shot that struck Wright in the chest.
To convict Potter of second-degree manslaughter under Minnesota law, prosecutors must show that she was “culpably negligent” and took an “unreasonable risk” in her actions against Wright. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, representing Wright’s family, said in a statement on Wednesday that the charge fell short of fulfilling a greater need for police reform in the United States.
“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back. This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force.
“Driving while Black continues to result in a death sentence,” Crump said.