Surprised and Pleased
Attitudes have changed, so we had a prosecutor who was willing to file charges and a jury willing to take a fair look at the facts:
Jurors convicted former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter on Thursday of both manslaughter counts filed against her in the April 11 fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, making her the third officer in Minnesota to be convicted of killing a civilian while on duty.
Potter, 49, stood between two of her attorneys and showed little emotion as Hennepin County District Judge Regina Chu read the guilty verdicts for first- and second-degree manslaughter. Upon hearing each verdict, Potter, with her attorneys hands on either shoulder, turned her gaze from the judge to the table below her.
Potter’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 18. Engh declined to comment on the verdicts. Gray, who shook his head throughout Thursday’s proceeding and briefly rested his head on the attorneys’ table, did not return a message seeking comment.
Police had pulled over Wright’s car for expired tags and a dangling air freshener and discovered an arrest warrant for carrying a gun without a permit and a temporary restraining order filed against him by a woman. Wright had a female passenger with him at the time.
Wright broke free of an officer, Anthony Luckey, attempting to handcuff him and jumped back into his car. Then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson was standing outside the front passenger door and had reached into the vehicle to prevent Wright from shifting it into drive. Potter’s body worn camera showed her warning Wright twice that she was going to Tase him before she shot him once in the chest with her handgun while yelling, “Taser! Taser! Taser!”
Potter’s defense argued that she meant to use her Taser instead of her handgun. They told jurors she had the legal right to use a Taser or deadly force because Wright resisted arrest and put officers’ lives at risk. Wright contributed to his own death by using marijuana and disobeying orders, Potter’s defense argued.
Prosecutors argued that Potter acted recklessly and negligently. They told jurors she received copious training during her 26-year career and should have known better, and that even deploying a Taser was inappropriate for the situation due to the risks it posed to others. Prosecutors meticulously walked through the differences between Potter’s Taser and handgun at trial and encouraged jurors to handle the deactivated weapons during their deliberations.
Jurors reached a verdict on second-degree manslaughter at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and a verdict on first-degree manslaughter at 11:40 a.m. Thursday.
Defendants with no criminal history such as Potter would face about seven years in prison for first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree manslaughter, according to state sentencing guidelines.
Prosecutors intend to argue for a longer term than recommended by the guidelines in light of “aggravating factors” they still must prove to the judge at a later date.
This case is particularly egregious because of Potter’s extensive training, she was a training officer, which meant that she knew better.
Police should behave in accordance with the law.