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Minnesota AG's office to prosecute case against suburban officer charged in death of Daunte Wright

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. AP image

Minnesota attorney general's office to prosecute case against suburban officer charged in death of Daunte Wright.

Posted: May 21, 2021 12:25 PM
Updated: May 21, 2021 12:52 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Friday that his office will lead the prosecution of a former suburban police officer who is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright.

Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter, who is white, fatally shot Wright, a 20-year-old Black motorist, on April 11. The city’s police chief, who has since stepped down, had said he believed Potter meant to use her Taser instead of her handgun.

“Daunte Wright’s death was a tragedy. He should not have died on the day that he did. He should not have died the way that he did,” Ellison said in a statement.

Ellison said he took the case at the request of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, after another prosecutor — Washington County Attorney Pete Orput — gave the case back to Freeman's office.

Orput initially had the case under an agreement in which metro prosecutors share one another’s criminal cases involving police officers. After Orput charged Potter with manslaughter, he came under intense pressure from activists calling for more serious charges, with frequent demonstrations outside his home.

Orput had said publicly that he believed manslaughter was the appropriate charge.

Ellison said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, who manages the office's criminal division, will supervise the case. Frank was one of the trial attorneys in the case against Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of George Floyd. Ellison will actively assist in the case, and Freeman's office will also provide staff.

Ellison's office said a review of the evidence and charges against Potter is already underway.

“I did not seek this prosecution and do not accept it lightly,” Ellison said. “I have had, and continue to have, confidence in how both County Attorney Orput and County Attorney Freeman have handled this case to date. ... Prosecutors are ministers of justice. This means we must and will follow justice wherever it leads."

Ellison said he will handle the prosecution responsibly and consistent with the law but that no one should expect the case will be easy to prosecute. His statement did not indicate whether murder charges would be filed, as some activists have requested.

“We are not destined to repeat history," he said. "Once again, we in Minnesota find ourselves at a moment where a deadly-force encounter with police has galvanized our grief and focused our attention. If prosecutors ensure that prosecutions are vigorous and swift, if legislators at every level pass long-overdue reforms, if police leadership demonstrates misconduct has no place in the profession, and if community continues to keep up the cry for justice, we will break the cycle of history and establish a new standard for justice.”

Orput thanked Ellison and said in a statement that he was grateful he took the case.

Gov. Tim Walz said he was glad Ellison's office was taking the case. He said that he and the first lady hosted the Wright family at the Governor's Residence this week and heard their desire to have the strongest legal team to seek justice for their family.

“ No verdict will bring Daunte back to his family, but I have full faith that Attorney General Ellison will build the best team possible to pursue accountability for what happened that tragic day,” Walz said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 611458

Reported Deaths: 7753
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1267881800
Ramsey53242911
Dakota47375477
Anoka43381465
Washington27752296
Stearns22721227
St. Louis18312319
Scott17735139
Wright16589153
Olmsted13557103
Sherburne1217196
Carver1077049
Clay830192
Rice8270111
Blue Earth772144
Crow Wing690599
Kandiyohi671785
Chisago628254
Otter Tail591787
Benton587198
Goodhue486474
Douglas479581
Mower478234
Winona465052
Itasca463368
Isanti446967
McLeod435461
Morrison428562
Beltrami411463
Nobles410650
Steele401619
Polk391172
Becker389657
Lyon365854
Carlton357158
Freeborn352634
Pine337923
Nicollet334645
Mille Lacs315556
Brown309040
Le Sueur300528
Todd288833
Cass288633
Meeker266644
Waseca241223
Martin237333
Roseau212421
Wabasha20843
Hubbard198841
Dodge19053
Renville184046
Redwood178641
Houston175916
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165223
Fillmore160010
Faribault157220
Chippewa154138
Pennington154120
Kanabec148028
Sibley147410
Aitkin139837
Watonwan13629
Rock129419
Jackson123112
Pipestone117226
Yellow Medicine115420
Pope11406
Swift107618
Murray107410
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89417
Marshall89017
Lake84620
Wilkin84013
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned49193
Red Lake4037
Traverse3835
Lake of the Woods3494
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 376815

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk59215646
Linn21567342
Scott20530250
Black Hawk16850320
Woodbury15378230
Johnson1479586
Dubuque13627215
Dallas1150699
Pottawattamie11393177
Story1092548
Warren594392
Clinton565894
Cerro Gordo564898
Webster546397
Sioux520574
Muscatine4956106
Marshall493679
Des Moines481776
Jasper454273
Wapello4402124
Buena Vista432340
Plymouth405782
Lee396958
Marion372378
Henry301737
Jones301357
Bremer294663
Carroll287252
Boone273735
Crawford273541
Benton264255
Washington261051
Dickinson251145
Mahaska235151
Jackson225943
Kossuth222166
Clay217927
Tama213872
Delaware213343
Winneshiek201337
Buchanan197834
Page195722
Cedar194323
Hardin192544
Wright191240
Hamilton189251
Fayette188943
Harrison182873
Clayton173258
Butler169135
Madison168019
Floyd165242
Mills164724
Cherokee162238
Lyon161241
Poweshiek159836
Allamakee156452
Hancock154034
Iowa149124
Winnebago147031
Calhoun144813
Cass142155
Grundy139733
Emmet137341
Jefferson135535
Sac133320
Shelby132238
Louisa130749
Union129535
Franklin129223
Appanoose128749
Mitchell127343
Chickasaw126017
Humboldt126026
Guthrie125332
Palo Alto115224
Montgomery106938
Howard105522
Clarke102624
Monroe101533
Keokuk100432
Ida93735
Adair90132
Davis88525
Pocahontas87022
Monona86731
Greene80011
Osceola79517
Lucas78323
Worth7648
Taylor67112
Decatur6649
Fremont64910
Van Buren57318
Ringgold57124
Wayne56623
Audubon53613
Adams3504
Unassigned80
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