Officer charged in Daunte Wright death to stand trial Dec. 6

Kim Potter/Courtesy Hennepin County

A December trial date has been set for a former suburban Minneapolis police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death.

Posted: May 17, 2021 6:55 AM
Updated: May 17, 2021 2:58 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota judge ruled Monday that the manslaughter case can proceed against a former suburban Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright, and she set a trial date for December.

Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter, who is white, will stand trial Dec. 6, barring any future scheduling conflicts, Hennepin County District Judge Regina Chu said during a pretrial hearing.

"I do find that there’s probable cause to support the charge against the defendant, Ms. Potter," Chu said.

Potter, who is charged with second-degree manslaughter, appeared at the hearing via videoconference with her attorney, Earl Gray, and sat some distance behind him in his office. She looked straight ahead at the video screen and had little reaction during the hearing, saying, “Yes, your honor,” when the judge asked if the hearing could go forward via videoconference. Potter did not enter a plea during the hearing.

Wright was killed April 11 during a struggle with police after a traffic stop. The former Brooklyn Center police chief has said he believes Potter meant to use her Taser instead of her handgun. Body camera video shows her shouting “Taser!” multiple times before firing. Protesters and Wright's family have disputed that the shooting was accidental, arguing that an experienced officer knows the difference between a Taser and a handgun. They had wanted prosecutors to file murder charges.

The shooting, which ignited days of unrest, happened amid the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murder for pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck as the Black man said he couldn’t breathe.

Police have said Wright was pulled over for expired tags, but they sought to arrest him after discovering an outstanding warrant. The warrant was for his failure to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and had a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.

Intent isn’t a necessary component of second-degree manslaughter in Minnesota. The charge — which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison — can be applied in circumstances where a person is suspected of causing a death by “culpable negligence” that creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances to cause a death.

As Monday's hearing began, Chu acknowledged that Wright's family and friends were listening and extended her condolences to them. After finding there was probable cause for the case to continue, she set deadlines for court filings, saying it would benefit everyone to expedite the case.

Prosecutor Imran Ali said the Dec. 6 trial date works for now, but there may be conflicts with the schedules of expert witnesses, once they are determined.

“My goal is to try to keep that Dec. 6 trial date if we at all possibly can,” Chu said, adding: “If you need to schedule any type of plea hearing — if that should happen — I’m always available for that.”

Ali said the state wants audio and video coverage of the trial be allowed, while Gray objects to that. Unlike many states, cameras are not routinely allowed during most Minnesota court proceedings. Chauvin's murder trial was the first Minnesota criminal trial to be broadcast live on television, with the judge allowing the broadcast due to high interest and pandemic restrictions that limited courtroom space. The trial of Chauvin's three-co-defendants is also going to be broadcast.

Brooklyn Center was moving toward firing Potter when she resigned shortly after the shooting. The city’s police chief also resigned, after the City Council fired the city manager.

On Saturday, Brooklyn Center's City Council approved a resolution that calls for sweeping changes in policing, including creating a new division of unarmed civilian employees to handle non-moving traffic violations and limiting situations in which officers can make arrests. The city attorney and mayor have said that adopting the resolution commits the city to change, but it is not a final action.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 9678
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1797812046
Ramsey744701052
Dakota68081589
Anoka64523585
Washington40846364
Stearns33805283
St. Louis29764413
Scott26116187
Wright26105223
Olmsted22502130
Sherburne19117128
Carver1677569
Clay12183107
Blue Earth1154270
Rice11505139
Crow Wing11275124
Chisago999580
Kandiyohi9861108
Otter Tail9860129
Benton9098126
Beltrami819598
Goodhue816899
Douglas7929101
Itasca777299
Mower736349
McLeod718284
Winona711658
Isanti704785
Steele689234
Morrison675380
Becker630474
Polk606187
Freeborn564847
Carlton549875
Mille Lacs535179
Lyon530961
Nobles526954
Nicollet525661
Pine517943
Cass503253
Todd494143
Brown471760
Le Sueur460534
Meeker435459
Martin388244
Wabasha377410
Waseca375933
Dodge364312
Hubbard356049
Roseau318631
Fillmore307415
Wadena304740
Redwood282145
Houston272417
Renville269851
Faribault259435
Sibley254417
Pennington253430
Kanabec251837
Cottonwood231232
Aitkin223751
Chippewa221242
Pope209410
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Rock178229
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Swift173423
Stevens169311
Jackson161716
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Marshall154222
Murray152711
Pipestone150529
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Norman10569
Grant101810
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Lincoln8885
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Red Lake71610
Traverse6076
Unassigned569124
Lake of the Woods5265
Cook3131

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Cases: 527597

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Unassigned18890
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
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Monroe144340
Ida134141
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Adair118239
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