Mother of Daunte Wright’s son files lawsuit against family over $1m GoFundMe

“This is strictly a family dispute between the mother of Daunte Wright’s child and Daunte’s parents,” attorney Ben Crump’s spokesperson says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 05 October 2022 18:01 BST
Related video: Former police officer Kim Potter sentenced to 24 months in prison after killing Duante Wright

The mother of Daunte Wright’s son has filed a lawsuit against the family and lawyer Ben Crump over a $1m GoFundMe fundraiser.

Chyna Whitaker is the mother of a child fathered by Mr Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was killed by police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, north of Minneapolis on 11 April 2021.

He was shot by officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop. An arrest was attempted for an outstanding warrant and following a struggle, Mr Wright was shot. Potter argued that she had intended to use her Taser, not her gun.

She was found guilty of first-and second-degree manslaughter on 23 December last year and sentenced to 24 months, 16 months in prison and the rest on supervised release, according to Law & Crime.

Ms Whitaker is the plaintiff in the suit. Mr Crump, his law firm, Mr Wright’s parents, and one unnamed individual referred to as John Doe are the defendants.

“Of the approximate $1,039,260 raised through GoFundMe and managed by Crump’s law firm, not one single penny has been turned over to Plaintiff for the benefit of Daunte, Jr.,” the lawsuit states, Law & Crime reported. “Rather, the entirety of the GoFundMe campaign funds have been directly turned over to Daunte, Sr.’s parents, Katie Bryant a/k/a Katie Wright and Arbuey Wright despite written demands to Defendants through their attorneys.”

Chyna Whitaker, mother of Daunte Wright Jr., reads a letter to Daunte Wright during a press conference on April 23, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Getty Images)

The lawsuit alleges that Mr Crump told Ms Whitaker “up-front that any GoFundMe monies raised through The Daunte Wright Sr. Memorial Fund would be split 50/50 between Daunte, Jr. and the Wright Family”.

“Daunte, Sr.’s Aunt, Kelly Bryant, who organized the GoFundMe also represented that Daunte, Jr. would receive a portion of these monies,” the lawsuit states. “However, this did not happen.”

The lawsuit seeks a figure “in excess of $500,000,” as well as a “full and complete accounting” of the accounts connected to the fundraiser, legal costs, and any other aid the court thinks is suitable.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Katie Bryant and Arbuey Wright “presumably retained” all of the funds, perLaw & Crime, and that Mr Crump made Ms Whitaker believe that it wasn’t necessary for her to start her own fundraiser.

Georgia Patrol Car Death (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“Ben Crump specifically stated to Chyna Whitaker in the presence of several of her relatives and friends on more than one occasion words to the effect that, ‘Chyna you are going to receive at least 50% of the GoFundMe proceeds collected that my firm will help set up ... Don’t worry we are going to make certain that you and your son are taken care of’,” the lawsuit alleges. “Had Crump not made the above specific statement to Plaintiff, she would have separately set up her own GoFundMe account, which she had a legal right to do.”

Daunte Wright’s mother Katie Wright at the court building in Minneapolis before making her victim impact statement in the sentencing of Kim Potter (Getty Images)

Ms Whitaker’s suit claims that the description of the fundraiser stated that “all funds raised through this site will go towards covering funeral and burial expenses, mental health, and grief counseling, providing support to Duante’s infant son, Daunte Wright, Jr., and to help the Wright family in the fight for justice. 100% of the funds raised on this site will go to the Wright family. NO PART OF THESE FUNDS WILL BE USED TOWARDS LEGAL FEES. The road to justice is very long, and the Wright family will not let what happened to Daunte be forgotten. The officer(s) who took his life must be held responsible”.

Duante Wright had been given a car by his family just two weeks earlier (Family handout)

The lawsuit states that “Daunte Wright Memorial Fund” had Mr Crump’s law firm as its listed address.

“Defendants ALL turned their backs on Plaintiff and her infant son, the sole surviving heir of Daunte, Sr.,” the legal filing says.

A spokesperson for Mr Crump’s law firm said in a statement that “this is strictly a family dispute between the mother of Daunte Wright’s child and Daunte’s parents, who set up the GoFundMe account in question”.

“Ben Crump Law never handled or controlled the money from this GoFundMe account, which was under the sole direction of Daunte’s parents,” the spokesperson added. “Ben Crump Law did not benefit from any of the funds raised, and we did not accept any fee in this case. Our hearts are always with the family, and we pray that they can find resolution.”

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