Decision due in charges over US police killing of Black man

Ben Sheppard with Chris Lefkow in Washington
·3-min read

Prosecutors could decide Wednesday whether to charge the police officer who shot dead a Black man at a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb, as the city is roiled by more violent protests.

The white officer, Kim Potter, who has since resigned, appeared to mistake her gun for her Taser when she opened fire on Daunte Wright, 20, in his car on Sunday.

The death has sparked nights of protests in the US midwestern city where racial tensions are up during the high-profile murder trial of a policeman over the death of another Black man, George Floyd, last year.

"I just met with the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension)," Pete Orput, the Washington county attorney told WCCO local radio late on Tuesday evening.

"I hope to have a charging decision tomorrow morning, noon at the latest."

Protesters faced off with police for a third night Tuesday, with more than 60 people arrested, law enforcement officials said.

Riot police moved in to disperse demonstrators estimated at between 800 and 1,000 in Brooklyn Center, the suburb where Sunday's shooting took place.

Officers deployed stun grenades while protesters responded by throwing objects including water bottles and bricks.

Earlier in the day the families of Wright and Floyd came together to demand an end to police brutality and the killing of unarmed African Americans by white officers.

"The world is traumatized watching another African-American man being slain," Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd said, as he stood with Wright's relatives.

- Police under pressure -

A day earlier he testified against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for the murder and manslaughter of Floyd, whose death last year shocked the nation.

"To the Wright family from the Floyd family, you all have our condolences," Floyd said Tuesday as he consoled the latest African-American family devastated by the death of a loved one at the hands of police.

"We're here, and we will fight for justice for this family."

The families rejected the explanation that Wright's death was a tragic accident, as several relatives and activists called for the officer to be arrested and jailed for her actions.

"A so-called mistake? A handgun for a Taser? It's unacceptable," Floyd's nephew Brandon Williams said.

"Just because you are the law doesn't mean you're above the law," he added.

Surrounded by relatives, Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Wright's one-year-old son, and Wright's own mother Katie Wright spoke emotionally about the last times they spoke with or saw Daunte.

"I'm just so messed up about it, because I feel like they stole my son's dad from him," Whitaker said.

- 'Can't breathe' -

Shortly before the families spoke outside the court, prosecutors rested their case against Chauvin in the Floyd trial.

The defense immediately launched into its case. Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson contends that Floyd died from underlying health problems mixed with his use of drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine, and not from police actions.

In a video taken by a bystander at the scene, the 45-year-old Chauvin, who is white, was seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man -- arrested for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill -- complained repeatedly that he "can't breathe."

The recording touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

In the case of Wright's death, body camera footage showed officers pulling Wright out of his car after stopping him for a traffic violation and discovering he had an outstanding warrant.

When officers attempt to handcuff Wright, he scuffles with them and gets back in the car. A female police officer shouts, "Taser! Taser! Taser!" but a gunshot is then heard.

President Joe Biden called the killing "tragic" but urged calm as authorities conduct an investigation.