White former Minnesota police officer Kimberly A. Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 20-year-old Black man Daunte Wright, but his family is calling for more serious charges against her.
Potter fatally shot Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday (April 11), later claiming she intended to use her taser against him instead of her handgun. Associated Press reports that Wright’s family members are calling for more accountability. "Unfortunately, there’s never going to be justice for us," said Daunte's mother Katie Wright during a news conference on Thursday. "Justice isn’t even a word to me. I do want accountability."
The Wright family attorney Ben Crump added that the family wants “full accountability, to get equal justice.” Crump highlighted the 2017 case of Black former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk, a white woman who called police to report what she believed to be a woman being assaulted. Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison. Potter’s charge, meanwhile, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. In the case of Noor, prosecutors criticized Noor for shooting the woman without seeing a weapon or the victim’s hands.
Wright’s family aren’t the only ones calling for a more serious charge. "If the officer was Black, perhaps even a minority man, and the victim was a young, white female affluent kid, the chief would have fired him immediately and the county prosecutor would have charged him with murder, without a doubt," said Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Law professor Rachel Moran at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul added that Potter could have been charged with third-degree murder, which can carry a maximum sentence of up to 25 years. Noor did not deny that he intended to use his weapon, whereas it’ll be likely that Potter will argue she used her gun by mistake. “They’re not reaching for the most serious charge they could theoretically file,” Moran noted.
This week, people called out police hypocrisy after a video showed how Hutchinson, Minnesota police responded to a 61-year-old white man dragging an officer with his vehicle while wielding a hammer. Despite the risk of violence, the man was not shot or tased.