Former Minnesota police officer charged in Wright death appears in court


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© Reuters. Kim Potter poses for a booking photograph at Hennepin County Jail

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(Restores Daunte Wright’s dropped first name in 4th paragraph)

(Reuters) -The former Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old Black man during a traffic stop made her first court appearance on Thursday as the family called for “full accountability” for his death.

Kim Potter, wearing a plaid shirt, confirmed her presence during a brief online hearing and waved to the judge from a table in her lawyer’s office. Potter, 48, was not asked any questions about the shooting or her intended plea.

Hennepin County Judge Paul Scoggin set the next court date for May 17 and ordered Potter, who is out on a $100,000 bond, not to use firearms or explosives for the duration of her case.

In charging Potter with second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors will try to show she was “culpably negligent” and took an “unreasonable risk” in shooting Daunte Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Sunday.

If convicted, Potter, who is white, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Potter’s lawyer, Earl Gray, did not respond to a request for comment before the hearing.

Prior to the hearing, the Wright family and their lawyers gathered at the church in Minneapolis where his funeral will be held next Thursday to remember the father of a 2-year-old son and press for an aggressive prosecution of Potter.

“The last few days, everybody has asked me what do we want to see happen,” Wright’s mother Katie Wright said. “I do want accountability, 100% accountability. … But even when that happens, if that happens, we’re still going to bury our son.”

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Police video of the shooting shows Potter threatening to stun Wright with her Taser before firing her handgun. Former Police Chief Tim Gannon, who also resigned on Tuesday, said she mistakenly used her service weapon instead of her Taser.

In the video, Potter can be heard shouting: “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.

She is then is heard saying: “Holy shit, I just shot him.”

Benjamin Crump, lawyer for the Wright family, said the shooting reflected a broader problem of law enforcement in the United States using excessive force and having a propensity to “overpolice marginalized minorities, especially Black men.”

But Crump said the move to charge Potter also represented some progress following the lack of prosecutions of officers involved in the deaths of Black men such as Eric Garner and Michael Brown in recent years.

“All this family is striving for is to get full accountability, get equal justice. Nothing more and nothing less,” Crump told the briefing at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church.

The shooting escalated tensions in a region already on edge over the ongoing murder trial of white former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man.

Hundreds of protesters massed outside Brooklyn Center police headquarters for a fourth night on Wednesday. About two dozen people were arrested on charges including curfew violations. The protests were smaller and more peaceful than on Tuesday night, when 72 people were arrested, police said.

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