‘It should be murder’: Brooklyn Center reacts to manslaughter charges against Daunte Wright shooting officer

Andrew Buncombe
·3 min read
Protesters have demanded justice for Daunte Wright (AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters have demanded justice for Daunte Wright (AFP via Getty Images)

They were not prosecutors. They were not experts in the law.

But many of the people gathered at the memorial for Daunte Wright were adamant the police officer who fatally shot him should be charged with murder and not manslaughter.

“It’s not enough. She knew what she was doing,” said Judy Olivareres, 20, who had come with a friend to pay her respects.

“She has taken a life. He was 20. I’m 20. He was a father. I just can’t imagine how that life has now been taken. Or how that little child will grow up without a father figure.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Kim Potter, 48, a white police officer with the Brooklyn Center Police Department, was charged with second-degree manslaughter, over the shooting of Mr Wright, after a traffic stop on Sunday afternoon turned fatal.

“Certain occupations carry an immense responsibility and none more so than a sworn police officer,” Imran Ali, Washington County assistant criminal division chief, said in a statement. “[Potter’s] action caused the unlawful killing of Mr Wright and she must be held accountable.”

Since the shooting, protesters have taken to the streets demanding that the officer and her police chief be fired, and that she be charged over the young man’s death.

On Tuesday, Brooklyn mayor Mike Elliott announced the police chief, Tim Gannon, and the officer, Ms Potter, had resigned. The city manager had also been fired.

On Wednesday, it was announced Ms Potter, who had served on the force for more than 20 years and who lived in the town of Campin, 10 miles north of Brooklyn Center, had been charged with manslaughter over the shooting.

In video footage released earlier in the week, Ms Potter was seen shouting “Taser, Taser”, as officer are trained to do when using the non-lethal electro-shock device. Yet almost immediately afterwards, she can he heard to say “Holy s***, I just shot him.

The video then showed Mr Wright’s car rolling away with him still in the driver’s seat. The car travelled several blocks before striking another vehicle and coming to a stop.

Madilyne Harmston, 28, who lives in Minneapolis, and was paying her respects at the memorial that has come up in recent days – flowers, candles photographs and written prayers – said she was pleased Ms Potter had at least been charged. Until four years ago, no police officer in the Twin Cities had been charged over a fatal encounter with the public.

In 2017, officer Mohammed Noor was charged with manslaughter and murder over the shooting death of Justine Diamond.

Star Tribune
Star Tribune

Last year, Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers were charged with the murder of George Floyd. The trial of Mr Chauvin is currently taking place and could come to an end within days.

Yet Ms Harmston, a social worker, said the case should also be examined by state attorney general Keith Ellison to see if other charges could be filed.

“I would be happy if they just take another look to see if there’s anything else than can be brought,” she said. “That is what happened with George Floyd.”

Kari Farngold, a 43-year-old health professional, said she was pleased the authorities had charged Ms Potter, and said she trusted them to decide what charges were most appropriate.

A 30-year-old African American man, who asked not to be named, said he was not surprised that manslaughter charges, rather than murder, had been filed.

“We saw this with George Floyd,” he said. “I know what charges can be brought under the law. Lots of people who don’t know about the law, are having to quickly study it now.”

One person who was similarly convinced murder charges were warranted, was Prince Wehye, a 35-year-old former Marine.

“We learned about the escalation of force,” he said. “Ten years [imprisonment] is not enough. What’s going to happen. Is she going to get out after 10 years?”

He added: “I think she should be charged with murder.”