Officer who shot Black man after traffic stop to face manslaughter charge-report

Activists confront officers following a march for Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
A person uses a megaphone as activists confront State troopers, National Guard members and other law enforcement officers following a march for Daunte Wright, 20, who was shot and killed by former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, U.S., April 13, 2021.
REUTERS/Nick Pfosi

A police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a scuffle in a Minneapolis suburb that followed a routine traffic stop was expected to be charged with second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday, local media reported.

Minnesota officials identified Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran who resigned from the Brooklyn Center police force on Tuesday, as the officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday afternoon. The Washington County attorney’s office was due to file the charge against her on Wednesday, the Star Tribune newspaper reported.

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput could not immediately be reached, and Potter’s attorney, Earl Gray, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to Potter, Tim Gannon, the Brooklyn Center police chief, tendered their resignations on Tuesday.

Wright was shot on Sunday after being pulled over for what police said was an expired car registration. Officers discovered there was a warrant out for his arrest, and an officer accidentally drew her pistol instead of her Taser during a struggle with Wright, who got back into his car, Gannon said on Monday.

Potter can be heard on police video shouting, “Holy shit, I just shot him.”

To be convicted for second-degree manslaughter under Minnesota law, prosecutors must show that Potter was “culpably negligent” and took an “unreasonable risk” in her actions against Wright. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $20,000 fine.

The shooting has drawn attention to potential issues with the use of Tasers by police officers, with some experts saying it is clear that problems persist with training and the weapon’s design.

It also has renewed criticism of discretionary vehicle stops for minor traffic violations, which can give police officers legal leeway to racially discriminate, according to civil rights advocates.

Wright was killed just miles from the Minneapolis courthouse where the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman charged with murdering George Floyd last May, is taking place.

Floyd, 46, who died in handcuffs with his neck pinned to the street under Chauvin’s knee, became the face of national protests against racism and police brutality that swept the United States last summer.

Protesters assembled outside Brooklyn Center’s police headquarters for a third night on Tuesday. Some demonstrators lobbed bottles and other projectiles over a fence in front of the headquarters. Officers fired tear gas, nonlethal rounds and flash-bang rounds, to disperse the crowd.