Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Tougher charges urged in police killing

- SCOTT BAUER AND MIKE HOUSEHOLDE­R Informatio­n for this article was contribute­d by Doug Glass, Mohamed Ibrahim, Tim Sullivan, Suman Naishadham in Phoenix and Stephen Groves of The Associated Press.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Daunte Wright’s family members joined with community leaders Thursday in calling for more serious charges against the white former police officer who fatally shot him, comparing her case to the murder charge brought against a Black officer who killed a white woman in nearby Minneapoli­s.

Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter was charged with second-degree manslaught­er in Sunday’s shooting of Wright, a 20-yearold Black man, during a traffic stop. The former police chief in Brooklyn Center, a majority-nonwhite suburb, said Potter mistakenly fired her handgun when she meant to use her Taser. Both the chief and Potter resigned Tuesday.

Potter — who was released on $100,000 bond hours after her arrest Wednesday — appeared alongside her attorney, Earl Gray, at her initial appearance Thursday over Zoom, saying very little. Gray kept his camera on himself for most of the hearing, swiveling it to show Potter only briefly. Her next court appearance is set for May 17.

Wright’s family members and protesters who have confronted police all week since his death say there’s no excuse for the shooting.

“Unfortunat­ely, there’s never going to be justice for us,” Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said at a news conference Thursday. “Justice isn’t even a word to me. I do want accountabi­lity.”

Wright family attorney Ben Crump said “full accountabi­lity, to get equal justice” is all the family wants — “nothing more, nothing less.”

Crump and other advocates for Wright point to the 2017 case of Mohamed Noor. The Black former Minneapoli­s police officer fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white woman who was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, in the alley behind her home after she called 911 to report what she thought was a woman being assaulted.

Noor was convicted of third-degree murder in addition to second-degree manslaught­er and sentenced to 12½ years in prison. Potter’s charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. Intent isn’t a necessary component of either charge.

A key difference is that third-degree murder requires someone to act with a “depraved mind,” a term that has been the subject of legal disputes, but includes an act eminently dangerous to others, performed without regard for human life.

Noor testified that he fired to protect his partner’s life after hearing a loud bang on the squad car and seeing a woman at his partner’s window raising her arm. Prosecutor­s criticized Noor for shooting without seeing a weapon or Damond’s hands.

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