MINNEAPOLIS – 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.