The police officer who fatally shot a young Black motorist during a traffic stop in Minnesota, igniting several nights of civil unrest, was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday, a day after the officer turned in her badge.
Daunte Wright, 20, was pulled over Sunday in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center for what police said was an expired vehicle registration, then struggled with police and was shot dead by officer Kimberly Potter, 48, who had threatened to stun him with a Taser but fired her handgun instead.
The shooting escalated tensions in a region already on edge over the ongoing trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the use of deadly force last May against George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was suspected of passing a bogus $20 bill.
Potter, a 26-year department veteran, was taken into custody by agents of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at its office in nearby St. Paul, authorities said.
She was jailed on a charge of second-degree manslaughter but released hours later after posting $100,000 bond, according to jail records.
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.
In a police video of the shooting, Potter shouts: “Taser, Taser, Taser!” as she draws her weapon and opens fire on Wright in his car after he had just pulled away from a fellow officer, then she is heard to say: “Holy shit, I just shot him.”
City Police Chief Jim Gannon, who also resigned on Tuesday, has said the shooting appeared to have been accidental.
Potter’s handgun and Taser were holstered on opposite sides of her belt in such a way that she would have had to use her left hand to draw the electric-stun device, the county attorney’s office said. Instead, she pulled her Glock 9mm pistol with her right hand.
The prosecutors also said Potter’s partner officer, Anthony Luckey, had determined after stopping Wright that he had an outstanding warrant for a “gross misdemeanor weapons charge.”