Former Minnesota police officer charged in shooting of Black motorist

SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The police officer who fatally shot a Black motorist during a traffic stop in Minnesota, igniting several nights of civil unrest, was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday, a day after she turned in her badge.

Daunte Wright, 20, was pulled over Sunday in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center for what police said was an expired vehicle registration, then struggled with police and was shot dead by officer Kimberly Potter who had threatened to stun him with a Taser but fired her handgun instead.

The shooting escalated tensions in a region already on edge over the ongoing trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the use of deadly force last May against George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was suspected of passing a bogus $20 bill.

Potter, a 26-year department veteran, was taken into custody by agents of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension at its office in nearby St. Paul, authorities said.

She was jailed on a charge of second-degree manslaughter but released hours later after posting $100,000 bond, according to jail records. Her first court appearance was set for Thursday at 1:30 pm (1830 GMT).

Hundreds of protesters massed outside Brooklyn Center police headquarters for a fourth night on Wednesday, attending a rally that was mostly peaceful as darkness fell, with organizers urging the crowd to remain orderly.

Groups of demonstrators, however, persisted in taunting sheriff's deputies lined up behind a chain-link fence in front of the building, throwing objects over the barrier. The officers in turn periodically approached the fence to douse those on the other side with pepper spray.

Responding to criticism that officers used heavy-handed tactics unnecessarily, Mayor Mike Elliott said on Wednesday that the county sheriff's office, rather than city police, was handling crowd control.

"Gassing, in my opinion, is not a humane way of policing," Elliott told reporters. He also urged demonstrators to remain peaceful, saying: "The eyes of the world are on Brooklyn Center."

As a curfew took effect on Wednesday night, law enforcement backed by National Guard troops moved again to break up the crowds with pepper spray and flash-bangs, though no tear gas appeared to have been immediately used.

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