AG Keith Ellison takes case; white cop who shot Daunte Wright may soon face murder charge

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According to reports, the former Minnesota police officer who accidentally shot criminal suspect Daunte Wright during a traffic stop gone bad in early April may have her second-degree manslaughter charge raised to murder.

While there’s been no indication thus far that an upgrade to Kim Potter’s charges will occur, some suspect it’s possible now that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken the case.

“Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that he has accepted a request to lead the prosecution against former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter,” the AG’s office announced Friday.

Ellison is the same Democrat who successfully prosecuted former Minneapolis police Derek Chauvin on charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter as per the death of criminal suspect George Floyd.

More importantly, he’s the official who last summer upgraded Chauvin’s charges from just third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

“I believe the evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second-degree murder,” he said at the time.

Already pressure is growing for Ellison to pull the same shtick this time around.

“Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also welcomed Ellison’s involvement and said he believes a third-degree murder charge should be filed,” the Associated Press reported.

“Obviously our next step is to see, after reviewing all of the facts, if there will be additional charges, which we think are warranted in this case,” Hussein reportedly said.

The second-degree manslaughter charge was filed by Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who initially took the case but later transferred it to Ellison.

Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney who’s reportedly been “protesting” outside Orput’s home, told the AP that she won’t accept anything less than a murder charge.

“The case rises to the level of murder charges. This is not the situation where an officer should receive a slap on the wrist. … I don’t know why anyone should accept a manslaughter charge,” she said.

But murder requires intent, and the evidence thus far negates the notion that Potter had intended to open fire. In fact, bodycam footage from the shooting showed her reacting in shock seconds after she opened fire on Wright as he resisted arrest.

“Oh s–t, I just shot him!” she exclaimed.

Watch (*Graphic content):

Yet Wright’s own family has been just as adamant that his fatal shooting wasn’t an accident.

“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back. This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force,” their attorney, Ben Crump, said in a statement last month.

“Driving while black continues to result in a death sentence. A 26-year veteran of the force knows the difference between a taser and a firearm. Kim Potter executed Daunte for what amounts to no more than a minor traffic infraction and a misdemeanor warrant.”

While it’s true Wright was originally pulled over for a traffic violation, and there’d indeed been an open warrant on him relating to illegal gun possession, what went unmentioned in Crump’s diatribe was that he was also facing charges related to an aggravated armed robbery attempt.

Wright and a high school acquaintance, Emajay Maurice Driver, were both charged with first-degree aggravated robbery sometime in the past as per a December 2019 incident in Osseso, Minn., according to court documents.

The documents show that, after attending an apartment party, the duo wound up staying the night. The next morning, as one of the two women who lived at the apartment tried paying the other resident her share of the rent ($820 in cash) before leaving for work, Wright tried to rob her.

And in trying to rob her, he first threatened the woman with a handgun and then allegedly started choking her when she refused.

Also unmentioned by Crump was that Wright resisted arrest, leading to a situation in which Potter and her colleagues were trying to restrain a criminal suspect with a very violent, dangerous history.

Nevertheless, even Ellison appears to think on some level that Wright’s shooting was more than an accident.

“Once again, we in Minnesota find ourselves at a moment where a deadly-force encounter with police has galvanized our grief and focused our attention. If prosecutors ensure that prosecutions are vigorous and swift, if legislators at every level pass long-overdue reforms, if police leadership demonstrates misconduct has no place in the profession, and if community continues to keep up the cry for justice, we will break the cycle of history and establish a new standard for justice,” he said in a statement Friday.

That was the exact sort of rhetoric he’d issued after Floyd’s death last year.

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Vivek Saxena

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