BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (FOX 9) - Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is taking over the prosecution of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter for the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.
Ellison's handling of the case will include a review of the criminal charges. There is no word yet if the charges will be enhanced to murder. The request for Ellison to prosecute Potter came from Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who has been under intense pressure and scrutiny to increase the second-degree manslaughter charge to murder.
Potter is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 shooting death of Daunte Wright. Bodycam footage showed the moments leading up to the deadly shooting, including when Potter yelled, "Taser, Taser," before shooting her gun. After firing, Potter can be heard saying, "S---, I just shot him." The Brooklyn Center Police Chief said he believed she mistook her gun for her Taser.
The charging decision was passed on to the Washington County Attorney’s Office from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott and community activists have been calling for the governor to hand the case over to Attorney General Ellison for prosecution.
IN DEPTH: The police shooting of Daunte Wright
Ellison: ‘I did not seek this prosecution and do not accept it lightly’
Attorney General Keith Ellison released the following statement:
"Daunte Wright was a son, a brother, a father, a friend. When he died, he was only 20 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him.
"Daunte Wright’s death was a tragedy. He should not have died on the day that he did. He should not have died the way that he did. His parents, brothers, sisters, and friends must now live the rest of their lives without him. His son, only two years old, will grow up without his father. I have privately expressed my condolences and sorrow to the family and expect to work with them closely throughout the proceedings.
"The community of Brooklyn Center and people across Minnesota also continue to grieve Daunte’s death. I join them in that grieving. His death is a loss to all of us.
"I did not seek this prosecution and do not accept it lightly. I have had, and continue to have, confidence in how both County Attorney Orput and County Attorney Freeman have handled this case to date. I thank County Attorney Orput for the solid work he and his office have done, and I thank County Attorney Freeman once again for his confidence in my office. I appreciate their partnership as my office takes the lead on this case.
"Prosecutors are ministers of justice. This means we must and will follow justice wherever it leads. I promise the Wright family and all Minnesotans that I will handle this prosecution responsibly and consistent with the law, and that I will be guided by the values of accountability and transparency.
"No one, however, should expect this case will be easy to prosecute. History shows that this case, like all cases of officer-involved deaths by deadly force, will be difficult.
"We are not destined to repeat history. 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."
Governor Tim Walz statement
"I am glad that Attorney General Ellison is taking the case. The First Lady and I were grateful to host the Wright family at the Residence this week and have an opportunity to honor the memory of their son Daunte. We heard their desire to have the strongest legal team possible to bring their family justice. No verdict will bring Daunte back to his family, but I have full faith that Attorney General Ellison will build the best team possible to pursue accountability for what happened that tragic day."
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput statement
"I want to thank Attorney General Ellison personally for his leadership and I'm grateful that he has agreed to take this case. I have the utmost confidence in him as Attorney General. I believe that the review and the prosecution of this case and cases like it belongs with the Attorney General, and I call on the Legislature to provide all the funding necessary so that his office can do this work."
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman statement
"The Attorney General, the Washington County Attorney, and I are following the protocol the five urban county attorneys signed last summer, which includes asking the Attorney General to take police use of deadly force cases. The Potter case is now appropriately in the hands of the Attorney General."
Brooklyn Center Police Department changes
The Brooklyn Center City Council has approved a number of policing changes as part of a resolution proposed by Mayor Elliott in the wake of Daunte Wright's killing. The new resolution creates a new public safety department with unarmed civilian traffic enforcement and a mental health response division.
Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon resigned from the department following the shooting of Daunte Wright.
A tentative date of December 6 has been set for Potter's trial.