The attorney for the families of George Floyd and Daunte Wright declared Thursday that while the manslaughter charges against former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter marked progress for racial justice and police accountability, it's only a small step.
Ben Crump, the attorney who represents the family of the 20-year-old man shot and killed by Potter during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon, stood alongside a dozen members of the Wright family at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in north Minneapolis shortly before the family went to the funeral home to view Wright's body for the first time.
"It's a long journey to justice," Crump said. "We have to remember, not so long ago they weren't charging any police officer for killing a Black person. So we're making progress in America. Are we at a point where we can say it's equality? Oh, we're a long way from that. But we're making progress."
When Crump was asked whether he believed Potter intentionally shot Wright with her gun despite yelling "Taser!," he demurred.
But he spoke of several videos he'd posted on his Instagram account of young white men assaulting police and not getting shot. A young Black man in the same situations would have been treated far less delicately, Crump said.
"I don't know what's in her heart," Crump said of Potter. "What I do know is she used excessive force. Because he didn't really need to be Tased. You look at those videos of those white young men challenging, attacking, assaulting ... police. They did not shoot them. They did not use Tasers on them. ... In some of the videos, the police actually retreat. They run from the white men."
"So why is it, in every instance, the police engage in the most excessive force with Black people?" he continued. "When they overpolice us, when they use the most force, it has deadly consequences for us and our children."
Wright's attorneys as well as his family acknowledged Wright made mistakes; he had a warrant for his arrest relating to an aggravated armed robbery attempt. But they emphasized that race is the clear difference in the police shooting case.
They noted that former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was a Black officer who shot a white woman, and he was convicted of 3rd degree murder. But Potter, a white officer who shot a Black man, was charged with manslaughter, a lesser charge.
Wright's attorneys disputed whether Wright's shooting was really a mistake, as Brooklyn Center police have characterized it.
"What did happen was an intentional, deliberate act of force that began with an intentional, pretextual stop and ended with the intentional pulling of the trigger," said Jeff Storms, another of the Wright family's attorneys.
Naisha Wright, Daunte Wright's aunt, held up two photographs: One of a black Glock 17 pistol, the other of a yellow Taser X26P.
"Y'all see the difference!" Wright said. "Justice? What is justice? Will we get to see Daunte's smile? We don't get to see that. The highest accountability? I know the highest is going to be judged by God. But can we get a conviction? Can we get something?"
Reid Forgrave • 612-673-4647