Minnesota AG’s Office to Prosecute Case in Daunte Wright’s Death

May 22, 2021 Updated: May 22, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS—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 fatally shot Wright, a 20-year-old 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.

Body-worn camera videos show Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, shouting “Taser!” while pointing her handgun at Wright, who was attempting to get back behind the steering wheel. She then shot Wright in the chest.

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.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announces upgraded charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and charges against three other former police officers involved in the death of George Floyd in police custody, in St. Paul, Minn., on June 3, 2020. (Eric Miller/Reuters)

Ellison, who also led the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, who manages the office’s criminal division, will supervise Daunte Wright’s case. Ellison will actively assist, and Freeman’s office will also provide staff.

Frank was one of the trial attorneys in the case against Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of George Floyd.

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

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

Orput said in a statement that he was grateful Ellison’s office took the case, adding that he believes the review and prosecution of cases like this belong with the Attorney General’s Office.

Potter is scheduled to go on trial on Dec. 6.

Reuters contributed to this report