The trial of former 20-year veteran Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer Kimberly Potter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright will begin soon with jury selection starting today.
In most professions, a mistake might cost time or money. But when you’re a cop, there’s a simple but hard truth: a mistake could cost you your life or someone else their life. The latter seems to have happened with Potter.
Many argue prosecutors have been over-charging or wrongly charging cops because of the incident’s perceived political nature. Potter is white, and Wright is black, which is all some prosecutors require.
Video evidence appears to show a legitimate accidental shooting. Potter’s police chief, Tim Gannon, agreed. He told reporters it seems Potter meant to draw her Taser.
According to MPR News, Potter warned Wright, “I’ll Tase ya.” She also shouted “Taser” three times before firing one shot from her firearm, killing Daunte Wright. Potter immediately says, “Oh, S**t. I shot him.”
Law Professor Ted Sampsell-Jones said, “the case against Potter is going to be more difficult for the prosecution to prove,” especially when “compared to [Dereck] Chauvin’s case.”
The professor believes it will come down to the video evidence, which was damning for Chauvin. He said, “In Potter’s case, the video recordings are equivocal and may demonstrate innocence.”
In a video made at the time of the incident, The Officer Tatum immediately declared, “this is not the appropriate charge.” He does not believe prosecutors will be able to prove manslaughter.
Tatum points out Wright was “pulled over legally, having expired tags, and… he had a warrant. They tried to arrest him. He fights the officers, tries to get in the car, and takes off. And Officer Potter accidentally pulled her gun instead of her Taser, shot him one time, and it ended up being fatal. And now she’s being charged with second-degree manslaughter.”
The Star Tribune reported Wright’s “warrant was for a gross misdemeanor weapons charge,” which also heightens officer safety concerns.
Tatum concludes, “It was a mistake… a fatal mistake, but a mistake. I believe this never would have happened if the young, dumb punk wouldn’t have been breaking the law and resisting arrest.”
He explained how the “relevant” statute “609.205” does not pertain to Potter’s case. Tatum notes only section (1) remotely applies to this case because the other sections self-eliminate, applying to hunting, children, or other unrelated situations.
Section (1) reads: a person is guilty of Manslaughter in the Second Degree if “by the person’s culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another….”
The Officer Tatum points out the two critical elements that rule out what prosecutors allege Potter did.
The first is “culpable negligence,” meaning she knew or should have known her actions could cause great bodily harm or death. An honest mistake, even with fatal results, is still a mistake.
The other element Tatum mentioned is acting “consciously” to chance causing someone harm or death. It seems obvious Potter did not mean to draw her firearm but to draw a Taser, which is not designed to cause significant harm or death.
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