Kimberly A. Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who was charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright, is set to stand trial at the end of the year, a Minneapolis judge ruled Monday.
Hennepin County Judge Regina M. Chu said during a Monday virtual omnibus hearing that she found probable cause to support the charges against Potter and set a tentative trial date for Dec. 6.
Potter, who is white, has not appeared in court since April 15, the day after she was charged with second-degree manslaughter for shooting Wright, who is Black, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minn., the previous week. Potter had been a police officer for 26 years until she resigned over the shooting and has remained free on bond.
The omnibus, or pre-trial hearing, marks the latest development in a case that drew significant national attention just as the trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin played out 10 miles away. In the days after Wright's death, suburban Brooklyn Center was rocked by days of protests that at times unspooled into violent clashes with police.
The shooting also prompted significant changes for the municipality, with the City Council reorganizing its power structure by firing the city manager and turning control of the police department over to the mayor's office.
Tim Gannon, then the Brooklyn Center Police Chief, resigned one day after defending Potter's actions by saying she meant to fire a Taser but instead made an "accidental discharge" from her gun.
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The only footage from the April 11 incident that has been released to the public is a roughly one-minute video clip that came from Potter's body-worn camera.
The clip, which Gannon played for the public the day after the shooting, shows two male officers approaching Wright's car — one on either side. After a brief conversation, the officer on the driver's side takes Wright out of the car and begins to handcuff him. As Wright begins to struggle, Potter approaches from behind to assist and soon heard threatening to use a Taser.
In that footage, seven seconds elapse between Potter's warning and her firing what was not a Taser but her service weapon. Seconds later, Potter yelled, "Holy s---, I shot him."
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Though Potter's case does not seem to have the sustained attention that Chauvin's did, media interest and pressure from local activists for Potter to face stiffer charges has prompted the former officer's attorney to object to the presence of cameras in the courtroom for Potter's pre-trial appearances.
A Hennepin County judge ruled last week news outlets could not film or broadcast Potter's virtual hearing Monday.
Lawyers for Wright's family dispute the police claims that Potter fired a gun by mistake, arguing an officer with her level of experience and training should be able to distinguish a black service weapon from a bright yellow Taser, the latter of which is typically worn on the officer's left hip, under department guidelines.
Wright's family has previously stated that anything short of a murder charge against Potter would be a disappointment to them.
If convicted, Potter's second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, Potter would likely serve closer to four years given her lack of criminal history.
That Potter is facing any charges is relatively unusual as fatal shootings by police rarely result in them. Officers fatally shoot about 1,000 people a year, according to a Washington Post database. Most of these people are armed; Wright was not.
Most police shootings are deemed justified, meaning only a small portion of officers ever face charges.