George Floyd‘s girlfriend and Daunte Wright’s mother embraced today, on the eve of former Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter’s manslaughter trial for killing Wright.
Potter is charged for first and second-degree manslaughter for the death of 20-year-old Wright, who was shot after being stopped April 11 for an air freshener hanging in his rearview mirror and expired license tags. Her trial begins tomorrow.
She fired a gun at Wright and the bullet hit him in the chest, killing him. Potter has since claimed she grabbed the wrong weapon – her gun was holstered on her right side, while the taser was on her left.
Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, said she remembered Wright fondly from when she served as Edison High School’s dean of students while he was a student, where he was ‘a joy’ who was always on the basketball court.
On Monday, Ross sobbed and embraced Wright’s mother, Katie, saying ‘this is pain like no other.’
‘It’s just been nerve-wracking,’ said Katie Wright. ‘Anxiety, hurt, anger, stress… every emotion you can think of, I’ve been feeling it.’
On Monday, George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross sobbed and embraced Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie, saying ‘this is pain like no other’
George Floyd (pictured left with Ross) was killed in May of 2020 by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he gasped for breath, sparking global protests against police brutality.
Ross and Wright’s family were joined at the conference, less than a mile from the Hennepin County Courthouse where Potter will be tried, by the families of Emmett Till, Philando Castile and Hardel Sherrell – young black men whose deaths at the hands of police officers garnered national attention
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Kim Potter (pictured) is charged for first and second-degree manslaughter for the death of 20-year-old Wright, who was shot after being stopped April 11 for an air freshener hanging in his rearview mirror and expired license tags. Her trial begins tomorrow
Edison High School, pictured above, which Wright had attended while Courteney Ross was working there
The bereaved mother said she is hopeful for accountability, but not justice, according to the Star Tribune: ‘Justice would be Daunte home and nobody else being murdered by police,’ she said.
‘Accountability is what we can hope and pray for come verdict day.’
Ross and Wright’s family were joined at the conference, less than a mile from the Hennepin County Courthouse where Potter will be tried, by the families of Emmett Till, Philando Castile and Hardel Sherrell – young black men whose deaths at the hands of police officers garnered national attention.
The day Wright was killed, Ross said that she was with members of these families to commemorate the birthday of another man who had been killed by a police officer. She was informed of Wright’s killing by Amity Dimock, whose autistic son Kobe Dimock Heisler was shot dead by police in Minnesota in 2019.
‘By the time I got home, I found out that man, that young man was Daunte Wright,’ Ross said.
‘Mind you, Daunte’s murder took place during the international trial of my man George Floyd who was murdered by Derek Chauvin.’
‘The fact that Kim Potter garnished a weapon for a routine traffic stop when the entire world was looking at racist cops under a microscope proved to me that Kim Potter was so brash and brazen that she murdered a black man with no thought.’
‘The fact that Kim Potter garnished a weapon for a routine traffic stop when the entire world was looking at racist cops under a microscope proved to me that Kim Potter was so brash and brazen that she murdered a Black man with no thought,’ Courteney Ross (right) said at the press conference
Katie Wright, center right, the mother of Daunte Wright, was embraced by George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, center left, before an earlier news conference in April outside the the Hennepin County Government Center
On body camera footage, the officer can be heard, panicked, saying ‘I’m going to prison.’ Potter’s attorney, Paul Engh, has argued that the video proves that the 26-year department veteran made an honest mistake and ‘an accident is not a crime.’
The families gathered at the press conference dismissed that notion:
‘In all my years working in education, I never mistook a sticker for a stapler,’ Ross said. ‘There’s no excuse for her incompetency when it comes to people’s lives.’
Hardel Sherrell’s mother, Del Shea Perry (right), said at the conference that no monetary settlement will replace their children and that the officers that took their lives need to be held accountable
For Potter to be found guilty on second-degree manslaughter charges, prosecutors will need to prove that she acted with ‘culpable negligence’ when she shot Wright. For her conviction on a first-degree manslaughter charge, they will need to prove that she acted ‘recklessly.’
Sherrell’s mother, Del Shea Perry, said at the conference that no monetary settlement will replace their children and that the officers that took their lives need to be held accountable:
‘We are expecting justice,’ she said. ‘We are not asking for it – we are demanding it.’
Jeff Storms, the Minneapolis attorney representing the white family along with famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump, noted that ex-Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor, who is black, was convicted for accidentally killing a white woman.
‘The question is, are we prepared to hold a white officer accountable for killing a young black man when she says it was an accident?’ Storms asked.
‘It’s going to tell a lot of us about where we stand as a state.’
Jeff Storms (pictured left), the Minneapolis attorney representing the white family along with famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump, noted that ex-Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor, who is black, was convicted for accidentally killing a white woman
Potter (pictured in a drawing from court) told Wright ‘I’ll tase ya’ as she pointed her gun at him
Potter’s attorney, Earl Gray, could not be reached for comment at press time.
For a conviction on the first-degree charge, a jury would have to find that Potter was aware of the risk of killing Wright and ‘made a conscious decision to act without regard’ to the risk, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu wrote.
Potter was training officer Anthony Luckey when he pulled Wright over. When Luckey ran a records check, he found there was a warrant out for a weapons violation against Wright.
On body camera footage of the incident, Luckey can be seen trying to arrest Wright and put handcuffs on him, but Wright spun away and got back in the car.
Within seconds, Potter warned Wright repeatedly that she was going to use her stun gun. Potter drew her service weapon instead, however, and fired a single shot.
Realizing her mistake, Potter became hysterical and told Luckey and another officer at the scene she had grabbed the wrong weapon: ‘I shot him!’
On evidentiary matters, Chu ruled that Wright´s criminal record and allegations, including that he shot someone in the head, was a member of a street gang, assaulted and robbed a man in March and was subject to restraining orders, may only be admissible if Potter was aware of Wright’s prior conduct.
Potter claimed she meant to tase Wright and can be heard in body cam footage yelling about a Taser. A Taser is black and yellow in design compared to a gun, which is all black
In the video, Potter is seen firing her handgun at Wright after shouting ‘Taser’
Potter (pictured) was given the first-degree manslaughter charge after her case was reviewed by a new attorney general and an expert. Activists protested outside the home of the previous attorney general and were disappointed when she was awarded a murder charge
In court last month , Prosecutors asked that evidence from witnesses that attended days of protests in Brooklyn Center after Wright’s killing be excluded – Chu denied the request, saying ‘such evidence is admissible to show bias.’
Although first-degree manslaughter is more serious than the initial second-degree charge initially handed down to Potter, activists were seeking out a murder charge.
First-degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years while second-degree manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, though state sentencing guidelines call for much less.
The decision came on October 27, which would have been Wright’s 21st birthday. Family and friends danced and released red and white balloons to commemorate the occasion at the Brooklyn Center Community Center, according to the Star Tribune.
Family members of Jamar Clark, who was also killed by police, and of Emmett Till, who was lynched in the 1950’s, were in attendance according to Toshira Garraway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence.
‘We are still demanding justice for Daunte, but we want today to be an uplifting day for Daunte’s family,’ she said.
‘He would be out enjoying the day and trying to do what every other 21-year-old wants to do,’ his aunt Naisha Wright told the Tribune. ‘He loved Halloween, Christmas and the Fourth of July.’