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Officer Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter in Death of Daunte Wright

Officer Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter in Death of Daunte Wright

The police officer claimed she meant to use her taser gun.

Former police officer Kimberly Potter faces a second-degree manslaughter charge in the death of Daunte Wright.

From The New York Times:

Pete Orput, the top prosecutor in Washington County, said in an email to The New York Times on Wednesday that the complaint would be filed later on Wednesday.

Ms. Potter, 48, had served on the force for 26 years and was training other officers when they pulled Mr. Wright’s car over on Sunday afternoon, saying he had an expired registration on his car and something hanging from his rearview mirror. When officers discovered that Mr. Wright had a warrant out for his arrest and tried to arrest him, he twisted away and got back into his car.

Ms. Potter warned him that she would Tase him and then shouted “Taser” three times before firing a bullet into his chest, killing him. “I just shot him,” Ms. Potter says in body-camera footage that was released this week.

Here is Minnesota’s second-degree manslaughter statute:

A person who causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:

(1) 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; or

(2) by shooting another with a firearm or other dangerous weapon as a result of negligently believing the other to be a deer or other animal; or

(3) by setting a spring gun, pit fall, deadfall, snare, or other like dangerous weapon or device; or

(4) by negligently or intentionally permitting any animal, known by the person to have vicious propensities or to have caused great or substantial bodily harm in the past, to run uncontrolled off the owner’s premises, or negligently failing to keep it properly confined; or

(5) by committing or attempting to commit a violation of section 609.378 (neglect or endangerment of a child), and murder in the first, second, or third degree is not committed thereby.

If proven by a preponderance of the evidence, it shall be an affirmative defense to criminal liability under clause (4) that the victim provoked the animal to cause the victim’s death.

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Comments

Anacleto Mitraglia | April 14, 2021 at 12:51 pm

CASE EXPLAINED! Kim potter is Harry’s sister, flunked at Hogwarts, that inadvertently transformed her taser into a Glock.

ugottabekiddinme | April 14, 2021 at 1:02 pm

Does “culpable negligence” require an intent to cause grave bodily harm?

Or just intent in the sense of having intentionally pulled the trigger, even if under the mistaken impression it was a taser, not a firearm?

Does “consciously takes chances of causing death” mean there’s some mens rea beyond negligence?

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to macemetal. | April 14, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    Looks like it to me.. I do not see how the law applies. She intended to use a taser, not a firearm. She did not consciously deploy her weapon.

    But, today, the law means nothing. Desired outcomes are what matter, leading to selective and arbitrary application of the law.

I think some charge is appropriate, but I don’t see which of those conditions her actions satisfy. 1 is the closest, but “consciously takes chances of causing death” doesn’t fit with mistakenly grabbing the wrong weapon. … Or does it? I guess the prosecution will try to square that circle.

    tedt715 in reply to f2000. | April 14, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Yes I agree with April. The officer did not create a risk: she’s a cop, her job is to put herself in risky situations. Does this involuntary manslaughter charge just cover all negligent homicides, and if so isn’t that a problem?

    chrisboltssr in reply to f2000. | April 14, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    That’s my think as well. In order to convince on (1) the state must satisfy both conditions. Did Potter create an unreasonable risk by mistaking her gun for her Taser? Yes. However, did she consciously intend to make that mistake and take Wright’s life? I don’t think so as she is clearly warning everyone around her she was intending to shoot her Taser, not her gun.

    This charge was obviously made to satisfy the mob. Mob justice never ends well for civilization, but no one can tell these idiot Leftists anything.

    TheOldZombie in reply to f2000. | April 14, 2021 at 1:36 pm

    From what I understand since a Taser can kill even though that’s not it’s selling point that is what satisfies option one in the law. Using a taser consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another. At least that’s how Minnesota views it.

      Weak, but it’s a theory. Can’t see how her doing something she’d legally be justified in doing used as the pretext for that, but I’m not on the jury.

      Milhouse in reply to TheOldZombie. | April 14, 2021 at 6:06 pm

      No, that wouldn’t do it, because she had the right to shoot him with her taser. Had she actually pulled the taser as she thought she had, she would not have been chargeable, even if he had died of it.

      Her actual negligence, if any, was in not visually confirming that the weapon in her hand was what she thought it was before firing it. The question is whether she ought to have done so. Is it part of police training? If not, should it be? Or is the slight delay this involves, in the 99.99% of cases where it is indeed the correct weapon, too high a price to pay for catching the few cases where it isn’t?

    Char Char Binks in reply to f2000. | April 14, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    She shouldn’t have had anything to do with daunte, because ANY action has a less than zero chance of causing death, making the attempted arrest a crime.

    stl in reply to f2000. | April 14, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    I think she should lose her job. The suspect created the risk and put himself in danger by assuming that the officer would follow exacting procedure under stress. Officers cannot do their job if they are going to be threatened with jail for clearly obvious mistakes. IMO, no different than floyd.

      henrybowman in reply to stl. | April 15, 2021 at 2:49 am

      And don’t forget, all this was over an air freshener.
      Not expired tags, a long criminal history, an outstanding warrant for ADW, violently resisting arrest, or attempted escape.
      An air freshener.
      Because why would his Momma and CNN lie?

    CaptTee in reply to f2000. | April 15, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Context matters. This all happened in the larger context of someone who was accused of using violence and had an outstanding warrant for missing court was resisting arrest and trying to get into a vehicle.

    There are only two reasons someone resisting arrest would try to get into a vehicle: escape when the police following (unlikely to succeed) or to retrieve a weapon. Since the suspect did not respond to the “taser” warnings, the officer could reasonably assume her life was in danger, so deadly force would be justified, even if only mistakenly used.

Did she screw up when under intense pressure, yes.
Intent to kill him, zero.
Factor blame into this, the contribution to this event by the dead guy of about 95%.
She has been way overcharged, mostly to appease the crowd although that doesn’t seem to have worked very well.
Her chances at trial, way too early to tell.

Given the statute, doesn’t sound like she’s guilty of second-degree manslaughter to me. If the alleged violent criminal with a history of gun violence and an outstanding warrant hadn’t resisted arrest and tried to flee he would still be alive. She didn’t create the situation. He did.

If she had deliberately shot him we would have a different situation. But she clearly did not do it deliberately. It was an accident.

All that said, if she hadn’t quit she should have been fired. Because we can’t have cops who can’t handle firearms properly.

At the rate we’re going cops will just let anyone trying to resist arrest go. Bet that’s already happening in some cases. And guess what happens when the bad guys figure that out.

Is there third-degree manslaughter in Minnesota?

    CommoChief in reply to JHogan. | April 14, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    I took a very quick look. It doesn’t appear so. The next lower offense seems to be assault 1 and that doesn’t include acts that result in death/great bodily harm or that could do so. It’s this or nothing, IMO.

Good luck with that one. There is no credible evidence that Potter created an unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.

This unsupported political pandering charge should be summarily dismissed at the probable cause hearing.

I am not a lawyer or legal expert, but I assume she is being charged under or 1. But she didn’t create the situation, Wright did by resisting arrest. It was it the grabbing of the gun instead of the taser they will argue creates the situation?

My feeling is she was negligent to some degree but not 10 years in prison negligent.

A very quick look at MN statues seems to indicate that the next lower offense is Assault 1. That charge seems to exclude homicide of any type. In other words if the actions /circumstances/ facts resulted in death or had the potential for ‘great bodily harm’ then it doesn’t fit the statute for Assault 1.

Negligent homicide 2 is, IMO, the correct charge. The facts seem to support that. Of course the Jury will make the final decision based upon the evidence presented at trial.

Clearly, from the body camera, she didn’t intend to discharge her service weapon; she is yelling taser. Upon discharge she immediately realised her error. She made a contemporary statement/excited utterance that ‘Oh s___, I shot him!’

Her actions were not intentional, they were negligent. That is why she is charged with the lesser of the available degrees of manslaughter. If I were her I would be cutting a plea with a very favorable sentencing recommendation.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to CommoChief. | April 14, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    I disagree. She did not consciously create a dangerous situation. The suspect, resisting arrest and fleeing a felony warrant did.

    But she made an awful and stupid mistake, I assert due to panic. I assert again, the appropriate course of action is to remove her from patrol duty, disallow her to carry a firearm in the execution of her new duties, and compensate the family generously for her grave error.

    We simply cannot continue to prosecute police officers for mistakes and errors in judgement when no malicious intent or capricious cruelty is involved.

    This includes the officer who panicked during the Capitol intrusion and shot Ms. Babbitt. Unlike this most recent incident, that officer actually intended to shot someone and is therefore more egregious. However, I could detect no malice on that officer’s part – just poor judgement and the inability to handle pressure. In this case, I would advocate removal from the force and generous financial compensation to the bereaved family.

    The police have a hard job and will make mistakes. Back the Blue (but the Blue needs to back us, too!)

      CommoChief in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | April 14, 2021 at 5:43 pm

      I see where you are coming from and I can respect that. However at the end of the day the question to charge with man 2 (negligent homicide) v no charges is IMO, dependent upon whether her actions constitute a ‘justifiable use of force’.

      The fact that she thought she was deploying a taser when she discharged her service weapon and her immediate shocked statement that ‘Oh s, I shot him’ indicates that she herself didn’t view her actions as a justifiable use of force.

      This whole situation is tragic for everyone involved and their families but to simply say in effect that ‘hey LEO has a tough job, sometimes that’s how it goes and besides she didn’t mean to’….isn’t acceptable. Opinions vary.

        f2000 in reply to CommoChief. | April 14, 2021 at 6:28 pm

        “The fact that she thought she was deploying a taser when she discharged her service weapon and her immediate shocked statement that ‘Oh s, I shot him’ indicates that she herself didn’t view her actions as a justifiable use of force. ”

        Maybe this is what you mean anyway… Her reaction was because the use of force she thought she was applying and was justified in using did not match the force she accidentally/negligently applied.

        The statute requires that the accused “consciously takes chances of causing death.” But she didn’t consciously take chances. She was shocked at what happened. The charge would make more sense if she was blindly firing into the vehicle. And “this is the closest we have” isn’t a proper basis for a charge. The action should meet all the criteria or it is not appropriate.

          CommoChief in reply to f2000. | April 14, 2021 at 7:29 pm

          Respectfully, I disagree. I don’t see anyone claiming that her actions were a ‘justified use of force’, which is the limiting principle for LEO. When a LEO uses any amount of unjustified force they are acting outside the law.

          Further, during my training and instruction on using a taser a point was made to ensure you have a taser and not a service weapon.

          If that was a similar part of her training and she failed to adhere to it that would likewise cast her actions as unjustified.

          Being a LEO is demanding, poorly paid and very underappreciated. My Grandfather, Father and Father in law were all LEO. I don’t bash the Police but I don’t refuse to hold them accountable when they stray.

          The fact is if a citizen had done the same that citizen would be charged. When LEO go beyond the limits of their authority they should likewise be charged.

      How about Officer Mohamed Noor who shot Justine Ruszczyk?

      Should he have been charged, convicted and imprisoned?

      We simply cannot continue to prosecute police officers for mistakes and errors in judgement when no malicious intent or capricious cruelty is involved

      Sure we can. It is often claimed that the police are “experts”, with special training and experience, which justifies them having powers and privileges civilians are denied. If that is so, shouldn’t police have a greater burden of avoiding negligence and error, not less? Do I get to avoid charges if I accidentally shoot somebody on the basis that I was neither malicious nor cruel, or is that special dispensation reserved for police?

Char Char Binks | April 14, 2021 at 3:29 pm

This is a lot like the Amber Guyger case, except that Botham Jean was blameless, and Guyger was negligent, even reckless, to enter the apartment after hearing the TV and/or Jean’s voice without making a reasonable attempt to determine whose apartment it was, without calling for backup, without turning on any light, and firing without making a reasonable attempt to determine if Jean was a threat.

This case seems to be a pure mistake of fact made in the heat of an arrest of a resisting, fleeing suspect, and so not a crime of any sort.

Incompetence is rarely a crime. If it were a crime, we would be sending doctors and nurses to prison every day – literally every day. Generally, the only time doctors or nurses are criminally prosecuted for mistakes they make is when they’re doing something while under the influence, or they’re doing something that is beyond the scope of their licensure.

With respect to this specific incident, I don’t see anyway the plain language of the statute makes a good-faith mistake – fatal as it may have been – a crime. I would be really interested to hear a (non-biased) MN criminal defense lawyer talk about existing case law on this subject. This can’t be the first time a cop in MN has accidentally killed someone.

    KevinW1 in reply to TargaGTS. | April 14, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Noor04012021.pdf

    Plenty of case law in this case justifying why 3rd degree murder by a cop in MN who mistook a woman as a threat to his partner was the right call instead of manslaughter.

      TargaGTS in reply to KevinW1. | April 14, 2021 at 6:55 pm

      Plenty of material differences between the Noor case and this case. First, the woman wasn’t committing a crime. So, he had no probable cause to stop to engage her. He ‘creates an unreasonable risk,’ meeting the first element required to prove 2nd Degree Manslaughter (which he was convicted of). This confrontation was fully justified as the decedent was driving on expired tags and had an active warrant for his arrest.

      Second, there is no evidence Noor didn’t mean to shoot her. He meant to shoot her, So, he met the second element of 2nd Degree Manslaughter – ‘consciously takes chances’ – when he decided to shoot the victim.

      This woman had a reason to detain and effect arrest. She then erred when rather than pulling her taser – which WOULD have been justified under the circumstances, she pulled her firearm and instead, firing one shot and then immediately recognizing the mistake she made.

      gmac124 in reply to KevinW1. | April 14, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      I’ve heard about this case and what I have heard the officer was wrong. It’s one thing to pull your gun and be prepared, it’s another to shoot someone without identifying a threat. To be blunt Officer Noor did not have the right to deploy force while Officer Potter was justified in deploying force so these to cases are not even close to the same.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to TargaGTS. | April 14, 2021 at 7:37 pm

    “If it were a crime, we would be sending doctors and nurses to prison every day – literally every day.”

    I would have jailed long ago . .. buried in a Super Max.

If she had not said anything about a taser and just shouted “stop the car” or “Don’t move, don’t move” and then shot him would she have a better defense than “I thought i had a taser”? Could she argue she saw him reach for something (even though it wasn’t true) and feared for her life? After following Chauvin’s trial and learning how vague or flexible the statutes are I am simply baffled at the utter insanity of MN.

    Chewbacca in reply to KevinW1. | April 14, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    Lying doesn’t make anyone look good. Especially a cop. The most important thing we (police officers) have is our integrity. Once that’s gone we no longer have any moral authority to enforce the law. The best thing to do is tell the truth and hope you didn’t screw up too bad.

    The manslaughter charge is a correct charge. She consciously pointed an object at the deceased and squeezed the trigger, failing to ensure it was a Taser and not a handgun. They feel nothing alike weight wise, they use a cross draw movement to deploy, have a on/off switch that you have to flip and are very visually different when aiming.

    If I were in her shoes I would probably just plead guilty and hope to make a good deal. She has no way to fight this. She did it. The only question is what is going to happen during sentencing.

      TargaGTS in reply to Chewbacca. | April 14, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      Why would she plead guilty when the facts of the case don’t support the charge? As cited above, there are TWO elements of the statute the state must demonstrate:

      (1) 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;

      She did not ‘create’ the risk. She was effecting an arrest that was warranted. There is also a requirement that she ‘CONSCIOUSLY takes chances.’ It’s clear from the video and her reaction that she didn’t consciously mean to shoot the suspect. She meant to taze him and made a mistake. Not all mistakes are criminal. MN may have a better statute that covers incompetence. But, if they do, the state didn’t pick it because this one does not, clearly.

She did “create the risk” when she pointed her handgun and squeezed the trigger when it wasn’t legally justified. But for her actions he would not have been shot and killed.

    TargaGTS in reply to Chewbacca. | April 14, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    I don’t think she did. But, let’s arguendo presume you’re correct. They still can’t demonstrate she did it consciously. Two elements of the crime and both elements must be proven to convict. The evidence doesn’t support the charge.

    There’s a reason why when doctors or nurses give the wrong medication to a patient, or in the wrong amount – which happens routinely – and that mistake results in death, they’re not prosecuted, criminally.

One thing that really strikes me about this case is if she hadn’t shouted her intention to tase Daunte, and had instead simply shot him, she quite possibly would have been able to make a better case for herself given the nature of his charges and the potential threat of him producing a firearm. But to make a blatant mistake like that, it has negligence written all over it. Could otherwise (purely hypothetical) justifiable use of force still be a consideration even if the intention was completely different?

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to SeymourButz. | April 14, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    I wonder what the state law says about apprehension of fleeing felons?

    henrybowman in reply to SeymourButz. | April 15, 2021 at 2:56 am

    “she quite possibly would have been able to make a better case for herself given the nature of his charges and the potential threat of him producing a firearm”

    Nope. He was still black, and this was still nextdoor to Minneapolis.

    randian in reply to SeymourButz. | April 15, 2021 at 5:17 am

    She’s also lucky her statement afterwards appears to support negligence. If she hadn’t made it, the “I’m going to tase him” followed by a gunshot looks a lot like a self-serving statement. It looks a lot more like plain murder, in fact.

Not guilty, according to their own statutes, as I read them.

If you’re a cop. cuff yourself to the steering wheel and stay in your cruiser

and let the world go by

only way to be for sure

    Char Char Binks in reply to REDACTED. | April 14, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    I never wanted to be a cop, but now that the job description has changed, I think I may be ready for a career change!

healthguyfsu | April 14, 2021 at 9:02 pm

Pretty soon cops won’t want to do anything whatsoever regarding black crime. It’s better to do nothing and keep your salary, family, freedom, and pension than put all of that on the line to be spit on and cursed when you happen to run into a black loser (of which there are many in these urban wastelands). If you run into a white loser, you might still make a mistake but no one will give a damn so have at it.

    henrybowman in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 15, 2021 at 2:57 am

    Blacks are learning the message of Radical Islam: be troublesome enough, and the rational world will let you do anything you want.

      randian in reply to henrybowman. | April 15, 2021 at 5:20 am

      Blacks are Islam’s biggest recruiting pool in the US, and imams are very active in prisons. A lot of blacks don’t like the legal system anyway, justified or not, and the fact that Islam teaches that infidel rule is illegitimate and that it isn’t a crime to steal from/rape/murder infidels is no doubt part of the appeal.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 16, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    This is what concerns me, policing is hard enough without all this crap. Will anyone want to be police?

I am curious if anyone can explain why in the bodycam video there is no recoil, flash, noise, casing? Nothing that indicates a gun was fired, even to the point that the officer had to tell the other officers she had shot him. I am not saying this isn’t possible, I am just wondering how? Sorry if this has already been talked about I skimmed over the previous comments and did not see anything, but I could have missed it.

If there are any gun owners on the jury she could be in trouble. “I didn’t realize it was a gun” ranks right down there with “I didn’t know it was loaded” in the hierarchy of feeble excuses. No responsible gun owner (which, of course, is not all of them) would consider that adequate. If you touch a gun, it’s your responsibility to avoid screwups – you can’t fob it off on anyone else.

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