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AFP
April 15, 2021

Minnesota officer who killed Black man to face manslaughter charge

World

AFP
April 15, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS: The police officer who shot dead 20-year-old Black man Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser will be charged with second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Kim Potter, who has since resigned, faces a maximum of 10 years if convicted of the charges, details of which were released to US media by Washington County Attorney Pete Orput.In a press conference on Monday, Gannon had told reporters that Potter, a veteran officer with 26 years’ service, mistakenly deployed her service issue handgun instead of her Taser as she attempted to stop him driving away.“I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department and my fellow officers if I resign immediately,” Potter wrote in a letter to the Brooklyn Center mayor, Mike Elliott, and acting city manager, Reggie Edwards.

Potter also said she had “loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability”. Elliott fired Edwards’ predecessor, Curt Boganey, on Monday, after he countered Elliott’s earlier call for Potter to be fired.

Earlier, protesters faced off with police for a third night on Tuesday in the American city of Minneapolis over the killing of a young Black man shot by an officer, with more than 60 people arrested, law enforcement officials said.

Tensions have soared over the Sunday police shooting of Daunte Wright near the midwestern city, in a community already on edge over the ongoing trial of an officer accused of killing another Black man, George Floyd, last year.

Riot police moved in to disperse a group of demonstrators estimated to number between 800 and 1,000 in Brooklyn Center, the suburb where Sunday’s shooting took place.

Officers deployed stun grenades while protesters responded by throwing objects including water bottles and bricks, law enforcement officials said. Earlier in the day the families of Wright and Floyd came together to demand an end to police brutality and the killing of unarmed African Americans by white officers.

"The world is traumatized watching another African-American man being slain," Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said of 20-year-old Wright, as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Wright’s relatives at an outdoor press event in driving snow.

A day earlier Philonise Floyd testified in the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for murder and manslaughter in the case of George Floyd, whose death last year shocked the nation. "To the Wright family from the Floyd family, you all have our condolences," Floyd said Tuesday as he consoled the latest African-American family devastated by the death of a loved one at the hands of police. "We’re here, and we will fight for justice for this family."

Wright was shot dead during a traffic stop by a police officer who apparently confused her handgun with her Taser, in what the force later described as a horrible accident. The officer who shot Wright resigned on Tuesday, as did Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who had told reporters earlier that the officer "had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet."

The families rejected the accident explanation, as several relatives and activists at the press event called for the officer to be arrested and jailed for her actions. "A so-called mistake? A handgun for a Taser? It’s unacceptable," Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams said.

"Just because you are the law doesn’t mean you’re above the law," he added. "When is enough enough?" For activists like Toshira Garraway, Wright’s killing is another example of the police brutality and systemic discrimination that has prompted an American reckoning on racial injustice.

"We want the world to know that these are not isolated issues, that in fact George Floyd and Daunte Wright (are) the face of hundreds of murders here in the state of Minnesota that have been covered up for many years," she told the crowd at the press conference.

Surrounded by relatives, Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Wright’s one-year-old son, and Wright’s own mother Katie Wright spoke emotionally about the last times they spoke with or saw Daunte.