Daunte Wright Family Reaches $3.25 Million Settlement with City of Brooklyn Center
Daunte Wright Settlement with Brooklyn Center Believed to Third Largest Wrongful Death Settlement in Minnesota History
**This story has been updated with additional information**
Lawyers representing the family of Daunte Wright said Tuesday night that the family has reached a settlement with the city of Brooklyn Center for the shooting death of Wright during a police traffic stop.
According to the release, the city agreed to pay $3.25 million as well as facilitate changes in policies and training related to traffic stops.
Of that total, $1.75 million will come from the League of Minnesota Cities insurance trust fund. The remaining $1.5 million will come from Brooklyn Center.
The release states that the settlement will not be finalized until an agreement is reached “on substantial and meaningful non-monetary relief.” This could include additional training for the police department on officer intervention, implicit bias, weapons confusion, de-escalation and mental health crises.
The release goes on to say a permanent memorial will be created at the site where Daunte Wright died at 63rd and Kathrene Drive. Wright’s mother has advocated for the memorial to remain in place.
The release states that the amount of the settlement is the third largest civil rights wrongful death of its kind in the state.
Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter was convicted of manslaughter for Wrights’ death and was sentenced to two years in prison.
A quote in the release from Arbuey and Katie Wright said that the family will move forward and use his loss “for positive change in the community, not just for a financial settlement for our family.”
“We hope Black families, people of color, and all residents feel safer now in Brooklyn Center because of the changes the city must make to resolve our claims. It is vital to us that the city fulfill its good faith commitment to fully funding and implementing the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Resolution,” said Katie and Arbuey Wright in the release.
Meanwhile, CCX Media reached out to Rick Petry, an adjunct professor from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul for perspective on the settlement.
“Looking back historically, in Minnesota it was very uncommon for these types of cases to pay out much of anything,” Petry said. “And certainly not in the millions of dollars. So to have $3 million is a huge jump forward from what it was historically.”
As for the the non-monetary component of the settlement, Petry said even that was unusual.
“I would say 99.9 percent of the time, there’s never an admission of any kind of guilt or liability or anything,” he said. “It’s just that, we’re going to settle this so that we don’t incur additional costs for litigation and those types of things. And so with that in mind, you would rarely find anybody that would say, ‘We’re going to apologize. We’re going to make these changes in the way we do things.’ All those types of things are very unusual.
The full release is included below:
Family of Daunte Wright reaches settlement with Brooklyn Center, Minnesota for his April 2021 death by former officer Kim Potter
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (June 21, 2022) – The civil litigation team representing the trustee for the family of Daunte Wright announces the monetary settlement of the matter with the City of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota for his fatal shooting by a former police officer during a traffic stop for having an air freshener hanging from his car mirror. The city has agreed to pay the family $3.25 million dollars along with facilitating changes in its policies and training related to traffic stops for equipment violations that do not interfere with the safety of the driver, passenger or members of the community.
This settlement will not be finalized until agreement is also reached on substantial and meaningful non-monetary relief. The legal team anticipates that relief will include training for the city’s police department on officer intervention, implicit bias, weapons confusion, de-escalation, and mental health crises. A permanent memorial to Daunte will also be created at the site of the existing Daunte Wright Memorial. The University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis/St. Paul will provide the city’s police department with in-depth, comprehensive training on cultural proficiency and implicit bias on a pro bono basis.
We believe the financial component of $3.25 million in this settlement is the third largest civil rights wrongful death settlement of its kind in the state of Minnesota, and the largest such settlement for a city in Minnesota outside of the City of Minneapolis. This settlement reflects historic financial accountability, particularly when the small size and limited resources of Brooklyn Center are considered.
Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter was convicted of manslaughter for killing Daunte Wright and was sentenced to two years in prison.
“The comprehensive settlement in this tragic case will provide a meaningful measure of accountability to the family for their deep loss of a son, sibling and father, and they hope and believe the measures of change to policing, policies and training will create important improvements to the community in Daunte’s name. Nothing can bring him back, but the family hopes his legacy is a positive one and prevents any other family from enduring the type of grief they will live with for the rest of their lives,” said co-counsel Antonio M. Romanucci, Romanucci & Blandin.
“There is no true justice for the Wrights because Daunte is never coming home. The financial component of this settlement cannot come close to compensating the family for their loss, yet the comparative cost for and commitment by the city reflects a commitment to accountability for this small community. A guiding principle of our efforts was to strike a balance between holding Brooklyn Center accountable, while not undermining the financial stability of the city or limiting the services it provides to its residents, many of whom are people of color,” said co-counsel Jeff Storms, Newmark Storms Dworak.
“Nothing can explain or fill the emptiness in our lives without Daunte or our continued grief at the senseless way he died. But in his name, we will move forward, and it was important to us that his loss be used for positive change in the community, not just for a financial settlement for our family. We hope Black families, people of color, and all residents feel safer now in Brooklyn Center because of the changes the city must make to resolve our claims. It is vital to us that the city fulfill its good faith commitment to fully funding and implementing the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Resolution,” said Katie and Arbuey Wright, parents of Daunte Wright.