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As ex-Minnesota police officer Kim Potter is out on $100,000 bond, awaiting a manslaughter trial in the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, victims of his alleged gun violence are still reeling from trauma and top Democrats who flocked to his funeral have gone quiet.
Wright is accused of shooting a teen and a former classmate on separate occasions in a pair of civil lawsuits against his estate.
In May 2019, 16-year-old Caleb Livingston was at a Full Stop gas station in Minneapolis when Wright allegedly pulled out a gun and shot him in the head, according to one of the lawsuits.
Livingston is now in a “vegetative state” known as unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, according to attorney Mike Padden, who is representing both plaintiffs against Wright’s estate.
Seven months later, Wright was charged with aggravated robbery after a young woman accused him of holding her at gunpoint, choking her and demanding she hand him hundreds of dollars.
Wright and a friend attended a party at the home of two women, then slept over on the floor. The next morning, the victim’s roommate handed her $820 in cash for rent. After she left, Wright allegedly blocked the remaining woman in the apartment and shoved a pistol in her face.
“Give me the f—— money,” he told her, according to the criminal complaint. “I know you have it.”
Then he wrapped his fingers around her throat and “choked her while trying to pull the cash out from under her bra,” she told police. She began to scream, he tried choking her again, and he eventually left empty-handed.
Demonstrators hold a banner in front of the FBI Minneapolis Division building as they march days after Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed by former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, U.S., April 13, 2021.
Wright later violated the terms of his probation in the robbery case and was accused of waving a black handgun near a Minneapolis intersection before ditching it and fleeing on foot, eluding responding officers. When police pulled him over in April, they found he had a warrant connected with that incident and attempted to arrest him.
Three weeks before his death, Wright and an accomplice allegedly shot former classmate Joshua Hodges in the leg and stole his car, according to the second civil lawsuit.
The accomplice’s bullet is said to have broken his fibula, struck an artery and left permanent damage.
Hodges was able to identify Wright because, before the carjacking, he got out of a different vehicle without a mask on – and the two made contact, according to the lawsuit. Wright allegedly masked up and proceeded anyway.
“[Wright] was accidentally killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11, 2021, approximately three weeks after his crimes against [Hodges],” the civil complaint reads. “After that accidental death, a false narrative began establishing [Wright] as a young person that young people looked up to, when in fact a warrant was in place for his violations of law on bond for a past crime. [He] had previously chosen a life of crime.”
The 20-year-old’s criminal record also includes misdemeanor convictions for selling drugs and disorderly conduct.
The legal team for Wright’s family, led by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, described the posthumous civil complaints as “character assassination.”
“The audacity of this attorney is disappointing, and we implore members of the community to not be drawn in by these opportunistic efforts to tear down Daunte and hurt his family,” they said of Padden. “Ploys like these aim to do one thing: distract. But our team will not be distracted in our fight for justice in this case and in our fight for justice for all marginalized communities.”
Despite Wright’s history of violence, leading Democrats in Minnesota attended his funeral and sat onstage. They included Gov. Tim Walz, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and state Attorney General Keith Ellison, as well as Rep. Ilhan Omar, within whose district Wright had lived.
“We know that this tragedy is connected to the deep and systemic racism in our society that Black people in Minnesota and across this country face every single day,” Walz said at the funeral.
None of them responded to requests for comment on whether they were aware of his record when they attended the funeral or the details of the aggravated robbery complaint.
Video from Potter’s bodycam showed Wright surrounded by police officers, one of whom had pulled his hands behind his back. Wright broke free from the grip and jumped into the driver’s seat of his car, then shifted it into gear.
“Taser! Taser” Potter could be heard yelling, although she drew her handgun instead and fired a single shot into Wright from just a few inches away. The car drove off, then crashed. Wright died and a passenger was injured.
Investigators initially called the shooting an accident and said Potter meant to reach for her Taser and not the gun – but she later resigned from the department and faces second-degree manslaughter charges.
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