A jury in Minneapolis has awarded $3.2 million in damages to the family of a man who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. The verdict comes after a closely watched trial that drew national attention to issues of police brutality and racial injustice.
The victim, Daunte Wright, was a 20-year-old Black man who was pulled over by Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter in April 2021. During the stop, Potter mistook her gun for a Taser and fatally shot Wright, sparking protests and unrest in the Minneapolis area.
Potter, who has since resigned from the police force and is facing criminal charges, testified during the civil trial that she had meant to use her Taser but accidentally drew her gun instead. However, the jury found that her actions constituted “reckless disregard” and awarded $3.2 million in damages to Wright’s family.
“The jury has spoken, and justice has been served,” said attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Wright family. “But no amount of money can bring back their son and brother. We must continue to demand systemic change to end the epidemic of police violence against Black and brown people in this country.”
The verdict is one of several recent cases in which juries have awarded large settlements to the families of Black people killed by police officers. In 2020, a jury in Minneapolis awarded $27 million to the family of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of police sparked nationwide protests and renewed calls for police reform.
However, some critics argue that civil settlements are not enough to address systemic issues of police brutality and racial injustice. They point to the fact that police officers are rarely held criminally accountable for their actions, and that civil settlements are often paid for by taxpayers rather than individual officers or police departments.
In response to the verdict, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called for systemic reforms to policing in his community.
“We must address the root causes of police violence and work to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Elliott said in a statement. “This verdict is a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go to ensure justice and accountability for all.”
The verdict also comes as the country continues to grapple with issues of racial injustice and police violence. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, is set to begin in March. And the Department of Justice has launched investigations into several police departments across the country for potential patterns of civil rights violations.
As the national conversation around policing and racial justice continues, many are calling for systemic changes to address these issues and ensure that all Americans can feel safe and secure in their communities.