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PROSECUTORS in the US city of Minneapolis decided this evening to charge Kim Potter, the policewoman who shot 20-year-old black man Daunte Wright dead at the weekend, with second-degree manslaughter.
Both Ms Potter and Tim Gannon, the police chief for the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center where the killing took place, resigned on Tuesday amid days-long protests.
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, the suburb’s first black mayor, said the city had been moving towards a decision to sack Ms Potter when she resigned. He hoped the resignation would “bring some calm to the community,” he said.
“We have to make sure that justice is done. Daunte Wright deserves that,” he said.
Ms Potter says the shooting was a mistake and that she had reached for her Taser but accidentally drawn her gun. Bodycam footage shows her threatening: “I’ll Tase you!” before drawing and firing, but Mr Wright’s father, Aubrey, said: “I lost my son. He’s never coming back. I can’t accept that.
“A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right — this officer has been on the force for 26 years.”
The family have instructed lawyer Ben Crump, whose pursuit of justice for black victims of lethal violence has included representing the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Mr Crump said Mr Wright “was not a threat.” The young man attempted to flee after officers who had pulled him over for a traffic violation sought to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. “Was it the best decision? No,” Mr Crump said, “but young people don’t always make the best decisions. As his mother said, he was scared.”
Renewed protests took place on Tuesday night, with hundreds gathering outside Brooklyn Center police headquarters. Police declared the gathering unlawful at 8.30pm and ordered demonstrators to disperse, resulting in clashes.
Tension over police killings of black people is especially high given the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin for killing Mr Floyd, also in Minneapolis. Jurors heard today from retired police officer Barry Brodd, who argued that Mr Chauvin’s use of force had been reasonable and Mr Floyd — whose neck was knelt on by the officer for nine minutes and 26 seconds, after which he was unresponsive — had kept struggling rather than “resting comfortably” on the pavement under Mr Chauvin.
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