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Community organizations call for special prosecutor in Daunte Wright's death

The Washington County attorney is currently leading the prosecution of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter.

MINNEAPOLIS — Several community organizations are calling on Gov. Tim Walz to appoint a special prosecutor in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.

Currently Washington County Attorney Pete Orput is prosecuting former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter. Orput has charged her with second-degree manslaughter.

Body camera video showed Potter, who is white, yelling "Taser" before shooting and killing the 20-year-old Black man. The former Brooklyn Center police chief, who resigned the same day Potter did, told the public he believed she mistakenly fired her gun instead of her Taser.

At Wright's funeral Thursday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump called on Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to take over the case from Orput. Ellison just successfully prosecuted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in George Floyd's 2020 death.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) held a news conference Friday along with Communities United Against Police Brutality, Racial Justice Network, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamal, Minnesota Justice Coalition and more community groups.

The coalition is calling for stronger charges against Potter, asking Orput to step down from the case, and calling on Walz to appoint a special prosecutor.

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"We know full well that it is difficult to impossible to mistake a Taser for a gun," said civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong.

She criticized Potter for pulling Wright over in the first place. Police have said it was for expired tags. However, Wright's mother told the public that he called her on the phone and said he was being pulled over for an air freshener hanging in his car.

"It was her duty as a 26-year veteran and a trainer of other police officers to de-escalate the situation and see Daunte as she would see her own son," she said.

Armstrong said they have “zero confidence” in Orput to bring a murder charge against Potter, or successfully prosecute the case. She referenced Gov. Tim Walz’s decision last year to shift the Chauvin case from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. When Ellison took over the prosecution, he charged the other three former officers in Floyd’s death, and elevated the charges against Chauvin.

“We all saw the effects of the attorney general taking on a high-profile police killing case,” she said. “He was able to get the top attorneys around the country to try that case and that is why we saw a third- and second-degree murder conviction as well as a second-degree manslaughter conviction.”

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