SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Friday in a press release that he has accepted a request for his office to lead the prosecution against former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter in the April 11 death of Daunte Wright.
"Daunte Wright was a son, a brother, a father, a friend," Ellison said in a statement. "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."
Ellison's office also led the prosecution against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. According to the press release from Ellison's office, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, who was also a lead prosecuting attorney in Chauvin's trial, will supervise the case. The release said Ellison will "actively assist," and that he is already "reviewing the evidence and charges" against Potter.
"Prosecutors are ministers of justice," Ellison's statement reads. "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."
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman originally referred the case to Washington County Attorney Pete Orput following Wright's death, as part of an ongoing agreement between metro area county attorneys in police use-of-force cases. Orput made the original charging decision against Potter on April 14, but recently returned the case to Hennepin County. Freeman then asked the Attorney General's Office to take over review and prosecution of the case.
“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," Freeman said in a statement. "The Potter case is now appropriately in the hands of the Attorney General.”
"I am glad that Attorney General Ellison is taking the case," Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement. "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."