Does the “wrong gun” plea work for the police officer who shot Daunte Wright?


Minneapolis (AP) — When police officers outside Minneapolis shot and killed Daunte Wright in April, her reaction to body camera video seemed to immediately prove important facts in the case. Kim Potter Said. “I’m going to jail.”

But legal experts say Potter’s conviction that he intended to pull a taser gun isn’t as certain as it looks — at least. The most serious sin she faces, manslaughter. Jury selection begins on Tuesday.

Shooting Wright, a 20-year-old black man, Just as nearby Minneapolis was being tried for George Floyd’s death, a white police officer triggered a fierce protest at the Brooklyn Center.

The concrete barriers, wire mesh fencing, and National Guard soldiers that surrounded the court for the trial are gone, but Potter’s trial provides increased security, fewer entrances, and closed parking lots.

Potter, who resigned two days after the shooting, says he made an innocent mistake when he reached for a pistol instead of a taser gun. But the prosecutor said Including team leader Shovin was convicted of murder, saying that Wright’s death was a manslaughter and that Potter, an experienced police officer trained to know better, should go to jail.

The big question for the jury is Whether Potter’s behavior has risen to reckless or negligent negligence, as required by law... The defense lawyer also claimed that Wright was responsible for his death as he tried to drive out of the transportation stop, and if Potter did not intervene, he could have dragged an officer to death. There is sex.

“What we have is basically an innocent mistake,” defense counsel Earl Gray said in a preview of his discussion. .. “

According to the complaint, Potter’s trained police officer, Anthony Lucky, told Wright that he had stopped him on the afternoon of April 11. For the fragrance hanging from his rearview mirror And the expired license plate tab of the car. Lucky then found an arrest warrant for a weapons breach. They returned to arrest him and a sergeant joined. Michal Johnson.

Wright obeyed Lucky’s escape order. But when Lucky was handcuffing him, Wright pulled away and came back. When Lucky grabbed the light, Potter said, “I will soothe you.” Then the video shows Potter, Hold your pistol in your right hand and point it at the light. Again, Potter said, “I’m making fun of you,” and two seconds later, “Taser, Taser, Taser.” A second later, she fired a bullet at Wright’s chest.

“(Abuse)! I shot him …. I grabbed the wrong (abuse) gun,” Potter said. A minute later she said, “I’m going to jail.”

Prosecutors allege that Potter committed manslaughter by letting Wright die while he was recklessly handling a gun, a misdemeanor when his death was reasonably foreseeable. Two manslaughter claims that she acted on manslaughter. Neither accusation requires the intent of killing.

Prosecutors suggested in pretrial filings that Potter should not have used a taser gun. They suggested that the police should have driven him away, as police probably found Wright later.

Experts agree with it Pull a firearm instead of a stun gun It’s rare. To avoid confusion, police officers usually carry the stun gun to the weak side, with a non-dominant hand, and away from the pistol carried to the strong side. That’s how the Brooklyn Center cops were trained and Potter arranged her duty belt. And there are some obvious differences between the two weapons. For one, the taser is yellow. Glock is all black.

Joe Friedberg, a local defense lawyer unrelated to the case, said that when Officer Johnson was partially in the car, Wright tried to drive the car, and Potter intentionally shot him to death. Said it was a good reason. , He said.

Mike Brant, another local counsel unrelated to the case, saw it differently. The jury may struggle to see if she did so recklessly, but he said it was clear that Potter mishandled firearms, the first-class element of manslaughter. According to Brant, “manslaughter”, or taking an unreasonable risk, is easy to prove and increases the likelihood of manslaughter.

In one of the most famous cases of getting a gun instead of a taser, a traffic police officer in Oakland, California killed a 22-year-old Oscar Grant in 2009.

Oakland’s civil rights lawyer John Burris, who won a $ 2.8 million reconciliation for Grant’s family, said Taser’s misunderstandings have diminished since police across the country stepped up stun gun training after Grant’s death. Stated.

Barris said he believes Potter has the right to use reasonable force and believes that his intention to use a taser can earn the jury’s credit. And if that happened, he said, the best way the prosecution could get was a conviction for a lower fee. But if the jury agreed that she shouldn’t have used the taser at all, they might find it a manslaughter, he added.

Still, if Potter comes across in remorse, she could sympathize and become an acquittal or unverdictable jury, Barris said.

“These are difficult cases,” he said. “In such a case, a lot of emotions are born. If the cop didn’t intend to kill anyone, the cop would be very emotional. That feeling would affect the jury.”

Lawyers are expected to Carefully select the jury Against their attitude towards the devastating protests that took place in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death. A survey sent to a jury candidate asked about the views of these protests and others over the last two years, whether they participated, were injured, suffered property damage, or knew someone. rice field.

A similar questionnaire was used in the Chauvin trial, which took 11 days to select a jury, and his lawyer repeatedly asked the jury candidate whether he could make a fair verdict with strong public opinion aside. I asked.

Potter’s trial timeline reserves at least six days for jury selection, and the opening statement will be made by December 8.

Zaynab Mohamed, Community Advocacy Manager for the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: The county prosecutor who originally caused the Potter case Claim murder.That didn’t work, but the prosecutor finally Handed over the case To the office of Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Mohammed said people are “more vibrant than ever.” She said Potter’s acquittal meant another outflow.

“There is some anger and I think people will be on the streets as they were after George Floyd’s murder,” she said.


The Associated Press // American Capitol News Initiative reporter Mohamed Ibrahim contributed to the story.


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