BROOKLYN CENTER, Minnesota – A decision whether or not to charge the former Minnesota cop who shot dead Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop could come as early as Wednesday, a prosecutor said.
Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, resigned Tuesday as calls for justice for Wright echoed throughout Minnesota this week.
The former city police chief, who also resigned on Tuesday, said Potter accidentally grabbed his gun when she believed to be Tasing Wright. Wright’s family rejected the police characterizing their son’s death as an “accident” and called Potter to account.
The Hennepin County District Attorney’s Office handed over any charging decision to Washington County District Attorney Pete Orput earlier this week, as the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the case.
Orput’s office did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment on Tuesday, but Orput told the Star-Tribune and WCCO-AM that he hoped to have a decision by Wednesday.
Local prosecutors in the Minneapolis area agreed last year to refer cases involving the use of lethal force by police to prosecutors in other jurisdictions.
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Wright’s death on Sunday sparked protests around Minneapolis, an area already under threat as the trial of former cop Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd murder entered its third week of testimony. Brooklyn Center is approximately 10 miles north of Minneapolis.
Floyd’s family joined Wright’s family at a press conference on Tuesday, hosted by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, where both families called for greater accountability of police officers.
“I never imagined that was what was going to happen,” Wright’s mother Katie Wright said Tuesday, recounting the last moments in her son’s life during a traffic stop.
Katie Wright said her son called her after being arrested. Wright told his mother that police said he had air fresheners in his rearview mirror. Police later said they arrested Wright for an expired recording.
Wright had an outstanding warrant, which prompted officers to ask him to get out of his vehicle, police said. Katie Wright said she heard the meeting take place on the phone before she hung up. When she called back, the woman in the car with Wright responded with a video call and showed Wright sitting in the driver’s seat lifeless.
Camera footage from Potter’s body, released on Monday, showed Potter approaching Wright as another officer began to stop him. Wright appeared to fit into the driver’s seat in a scuffle, and Potter drew his gun. Potter is heard yelling “Taser” before firing.
Wright’s family and many in the Brooklyn Center community questioned that Potter couldn’t have realized she was holding her gun. Former police chief Tim Gannon said on Monday officers were trained to keep their guns on their dominant side and their Taser on the other.
“After 26 years, you would think you know which side your gun is on and which side is your Taser. You know the weight of your gun and the weight of your Taser, ”Crump said Tuesday.
Protest Updates:60 people arrested in connection with the Brooklyn Center protests; protesters across the country call for justice
The area was under curfew for another night on Tuesday, but protesters and police clashed outside the Brooklyn Center police headquarters.
Hundreds of people gathered around the building now surrounded by concrete barriers and a high metal fence. Police in riot gear and National Guard soldiers kept watch. “Murderapolis” was scrawled with black spray paint on a concrete barrier.
About 90 minutes before the curfew deadline, state police announced over loudspeakers that the gathering had been declared illegal and ordered the crowds to disperse. This quickly sparked clashes, with protesters throwing fireworks at the train station and throwing objects at police, who threw flashbangs and gas grenades, then marched in a line to repel the crowds.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said about 60 people had been arrested in connection with the Brooklyn Center protests ranging from “the riot and criminal behavior “and urged the public for help.
Meanwhile, the marches drew crowds elsewhere, including Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Sacramento, California, and Columbus, Ohio.
Contribution: Elinor Aspergen and Dennis Wagner