Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison added the charge of first-degree manslaughter for former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, of Champlin, related to the April 11 fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.
Potter shot and killed 20-year-old Wright during a traffic stop. Then police chief Tim Gannon said he believed she meant to fire her Taser at Wright, who was resisting arrest, but accidentally fired her service pistol.
Both Potter and Gannon have since resigned from the department.
Ellison filed an amended criminal complaint alleging that Potter committed first-degree manslaughter by recklessly handling a firearm during the traffic stop.
Ellison has retained Potter’s original charges of second-degree manslaughter for culpable negligence by using a firearm.
Ellison’s office took over the prosecution of the case from Washington County Attorney Pete Orput’s office May 21.
“In taking over the prosecution of this case from the Washington County Attorney, Attorney General Ellison pledged to conduct a thorough review of the evidence and make an independent decision on the level of charges,” a press release reads. “After conducting that review — which included consulting with an expert in police use of force — Attorney General Ellison confirmed that the original second-degree manslaughter charge is appropriate, but also concluded that an upgraded charge of first-degree manslaughter is warranted.”
The amended criminal complaint includes new details of Potter’s training with Tasers and firearms.
“(Potter) completed annual recertification training courses on each of these weapons,” the complaint states. “These courses included training on how to draw, aim, and use each weapon correctly. The training material for these courses also included notices alerting defendant to the possibility and risks of drawing a handgun instead of a Taser.”
Potter completed two Taser-specific training courses in the six months before the shooting, according to the complaint. The training had classroom and practical components and specifically warned of the danger of discharging a handgun rather than a Taser.
“One of those warnings states: ‘Confusing a handgun with a CEW [Taser] could result in death or serious injury. Learn the differences in the physical feel and holstering characteristics between your CEW and your handgun to help avoid confusion’ and instructs officers to ‘always follow your agency’s guidance and training,’” the complaint states.
Before the prosecution was taken over by Ellison’s office, activists called on Orput to add murder charges to the existing manslaughter charges for Potter.