Former officer Kim Potter who shot dead 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Minnesota has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors say.
Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, was taken into custody about 11:30 AM at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in St. Paul, officials said.
She says she shot Daunte Wright accidentally, having mistakenly drawn her gun instead of her Taser.
Daunte Wright, who is African-American, died of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, which classified the manner of death as a homicide.
Responding to the charges, the Wright family’s lawyer Ben Crump said the killing was an “intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force”.
Both Kim Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon have quit the Brooklyn Center force. The killing has sparked three nights of clashes between police and protesters.
It happened in a suburb of Minneapolis, a city already on edge amid the trial of a white ex-police officer accused of murdering African American George Floyd.
Minnesota’s BCA said Kim Potter had been arrested on April 14 at the BCA in St Paul and would be booked into Hennepin County Jail on probable cause second-degree manslaughter.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Prosecutors must show that Kim Potter was “culpably negligent” and took an “unreasonable risk” in her actions, Reuters reported.
In a statement, Ben Crump said “no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back”.
“A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a Taser and a firearm. Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant,” he said.
After the charge against Kim Potter was announced, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott tweeted: “Daunte Wright like many other black and brown members of our community should be alive and at home with his family today.”
Derrick Johnson, president of civil rights group the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said “justice must prevail” after Mr. Wright’s death.
“A badge should never be a shield to accountability,” he tweeted.
On April 13, bottles and other projectiles were thrown at the Brooklyn Center police headquarters and officers responded by firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.
On April 12, Police Chief Gannon said the shooting of Daunte Wright – who had a one-year-old son – appeared to be an “accidental discharge” after Kim Potter mistook her service pistol for a stun gun.
But the families have rejected the explanation.
Daunte Wright’s aunt Naisha said: “I watched that video like everybody else watched that video. That woman held that gun in front of her a long damn time.”
Daunte Wright was pulled over for an expired tag on his car license plate. Family members and advocates say he was racially profiled.
Badycam footage showed Daunte Wright fleeing from officers after they told him he was being arrested for an outstanding warrant.
As Daunte Wright re-enters his car, Officer Potter is heard shouting “Taser” several times before firing a shot.
Daunte Wright’s mother Katie told reporters her son had called her after he was pulled over and that she had offered to give insurance details to police over the phone.
She said she heard police order him to get out of the vehicle. There was a scuffling sound and an officer told him to hang up the phone.
When she was eventually able to call back, Daunte Wright’s girlfriend answered and told her he had been shot.