The former Minnesota police officer accused of fatally shooting Daunte Wright during a traffic stop is now facing a more serious charge in the Black man’s death, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday.
Kim Potter has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the killing of Wright on April 11 in Brooklyn Center, northwest of Minneapolis. The new charge is in addition to a previously filed second-degree manslaughter charge.
Potter, who resigned after the shooting and 26 years on the police force, fatally shot the 20-year-old 14 miles north of where George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020.
The police chief at the time, Tim Gannon, has said he believes Potter meant to draw her Taser stun device but drew her handgun by mistake.
A short clip of body-camera video released by police appeared to show Wright trying to get back in his car as a female voice shouts, “Taser!”
The same female voice could be heard later saying, “Holy s— I just shot him,” as the car pulled away, police have said. The indictment says that she also said, “I grabbed the wrong f—ing gun.”
The new charge is first-degree manslaughter by recklessly handling a firearm, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office said.
Phone messages for Potter’s attorneys after business hours Thursday evening were not immediately returned.
After the state attorney general took over and reviewed the case, Ellison “confirmed that the original second-degree manslaughter charge is appropriate, but also concluded that an upgraded charge of first-degree manslaughter is warranted,” his office said in a statement.
The charge of first-degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Second-degree manslaughter carries up to 10 years. That count is based on alleged negligence that created an unreasonable risk of causing great death or great bodily harm to Wright, court documents say.
Wright was pulled over by police because the Buick he was driving had expired tags and an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror — a Minnesota law prohibits hanging items from mirrors — according to the indictment.
While stopped, officers discovered he had an outstanding warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons violation, the document says.
Wright allegedly pulled away from officers and got back into the Buick, at which point Potter allegedly said “Taser, Taser, Taser,” and shot Wright once with her handgun, according to the indictment.
Janelle Griffith contributed.