Updated: May 21, 2021 07:14 PM
Created: May 21, 2021 12:09 PM
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison's office is taking over the prosecution of the officer charged in the death of Daunte Wright.
Ellison's office said Friday that he accepted the request from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman after Washington County Attorney Pete Orput returned the case.
Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter is charged with second-degree manslaughter in Wright's death on April 11.
According to Ellison's office, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, who was a presenting attorney in the trial of Derek Chauvin, will supervise the case.
Ellison's office is already reviewing the evidence and current charges against Potter, the release said.
Jeff Storms, the attorney for the Wright family, issued the following statement:
"They are appreciative of all the prosecutorial efforts thus far. They are excited and grateful for the involvement of AG Keith Ellison and his talented staff. They are also extremely grateful for the graciousness and support offered by Governor Walz."
Ellison released the following statement:
Daunte Wright was a son, a brother, a father, a friend. 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.
The community of Brooklyn Center and people across Minnesota also continue to grieve Daunte's death. I join them in that grieving. His death is a loss to all of us.
I did not seek this prosecution and do not accept it lightly. I have had, and continue to have, confidence in how both County Attorney Orput and County Attorney Freeman have handled this case to date. I thank County Attorney Orput for the solid work he and his office have done, and I thank County Attorney Freeman once again for his confidence in my office. I appreciate their partnership as my office takes the lead on this case.
Prosecutors are ministers of justice. 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.
We are not destined to repeat history. Once again, we in Minnesota find ourselves at a moment where a deadly-force encounter with police has galvanized our grief and focused our attention. If prosecutors ensure that prosecutions are vigorous and swift, if legislators at every level pass long-overdue reforms, if police leadership demonstrates misconduct has no place in the profession, and if community continues to keep up the cry for justice, we will break the cycle of history and establish a new standard for justice.
Orput released the following statement:
"I want to thank Attorney General Ellison personally for his leadership and I'm grateful that he has agreed to take this case. I have the utmost confidence in him as Attorney General. I believe that the review and the prosecution of this case and cases like it belongs with the Attorney General, and I call on the Legislature to provide all the funding necessary so that his office can do this work."
Freeman released the following statement:
"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. The Potter case is now appropriately in the hands of the Attorney General."
Gov. Tim Walz released the following statement:
"I am glad that Attorney General Ellison is taking the case. 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."
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott provided the following statement:
"I am pleased with today's decision to have Attorney General Keith Ellison's office lead the prosecution in the Daunte Wright case. I called on Gov. Tim Walz and Hennepin County Attorney General Mike Freeman to make this decision almost immediately following Daunte's death. Ellison and his team successfully convicted Derek Chauvin to the fullest degree in the landmark George Floyd murder trial. I wanted to see this same level of prosecution in Daunte's case. His family, friends and our community deserve it.
The City of Brooklyn Center will work collaboratively with Ellison's office as they prepare to take over this case. I believe this is a milestone moment in our pursuit of justice. We will continue monitoring developments, but most importantly, our city will continue working with urgency to implement and execute the city council's recently passed public safety reform resolution."
KSTP has reached out to Potter's attorney Earl Gray for comment, to which he replied, "No comment."
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