Updated: April 15, 2021 07:50 PM
Created: April 15, 2021 03:25 PM
The parents of Daunte Wright said they felt anger and sadness, as the officer accused of killing their son made her first court appearance.
Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter is charged with second-degree manslaughter. She faced a judge in Hennepin County Thursday afternoon.
"The last few days, everybody has asked me what we want. What do we want to see happen? And everybody keeps saying, 'Justice,' but unfortunately, there's never going to be justice for us," said Katie Wright, Daunte's mother. "Justice isn't even a word to me. I do want accountability, 100% accountability — like my sister said, the highest accountability. And even then, when that happens, if that happens, we're still going to bury our son."
Daunte's parents, younger sister and a group of other family members addressed worldwide media at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis shortly before Potter's first court appearance Thursday. They said they will hold Daunte's funeral at the church next week.
"My son was very much loved. We loved him a lot. And the way he was killed, he did not deserve that," said Aubrey Wright, Daunte Wright's father.
The family was joined by the lawyers representing them, national civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Minneapolis-based co-counsel Jeff Storms.
"Everyone continues to ask the family, 'Were you satisfied with the charges? What do you think of the charges?' All we can do is say, 'We're making progress.' The journey to justice is a long one," Crump said.
He held up photos showing the difference between a taser and a gun and called this a case of "over-policing."
"She used excessive force. He didn't even need to be tased," Crump said.
He went on to say, "When they over-police us, when they use the most force, it has deadly consequences for us and our children."
Neither Crump nor the family explicitly disputed the second-degree manslaughter decision or called for a murder charge. Instead, they pointed to the case involving former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor.
Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter two years ago, in the shooting death of a white woman in a dark alley.
"If a Black officer shoots a white person, 'Oh, they're going to be charged and they're going to be charged to the fullest,' so that presented us with empirical evidence, based on what we saw in that case. The question has always remained in America: Can minorities get the same equal justice under the law when white police officers kill us?" Crump said. "All this family is striving for is to get full accountability, to get equal justice. Nothing more, nothing less."
The attorneys noted other cases across the country where black people were impacted by police use of force, in which there were no charges or convictions.
"Not so long ago, they weren't charging any police officer for killing a black person, so we are making progress in America. Are we at the point where we can say it's equality? Oh, we're a long way from that, but we are making progress," Crump said.
Storms added, "They're (the Wrights) getting criminal charges. They're getting a day in court, but we shouldn't be patting ourselves on the back for baby steps toward equality."
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he family attorneys noted Potter's charges could be changed as the investigation unfolds.
"The charges can be amended at any time. It doesn't take the attorney general to do that. (Washington County Attorney Pete) Orput could do that as well, so everything is in the early stages. But what should be clear to everybody is they acted swiftly because it was so obvious that what happened was an unlawful killing," Storms explained.
The attorneys stated they are in the initial stages of their own investigation to see if the charge should be upgraded.
"We will be prepared to talk about what should happen when we're fully educated, but I can tell you what did happen was an intentional deliberate act of force that began with an intentional pretextual stop and ended with an intentional pulling of a trigger," Storms said.
Earlier this week, Daunte's aunt Naisha Wright called for Potter to be prosecuted 'to the highest extent.' She seemed to question the second-degree manslaughter charge during Thursday's news conference and suggested they would ask for a higher sentence if Potter is ultimately convicted.
"My brother and my sister need this woman to be convicted. If we can have life, we want life. We have to go a life without him," Naisha Wright said.
The family said Daunte Wright's funeral is scheduled for noon Thursday, April 22, at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
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