Charges Upgraded Against Minnesota Officer Who Accidentally Fired Gun Instead of Taser, Killing Daunte Wright
First Degree Manslaughter added by Attorney General Keith Ellison on top of previous Second Degree Manslaughter.
In early April 2021, as the trial of Derek Chauvin was winding down, a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, shot dead Daunte Wright, leading to days of rioting and looting that became an issue in the Chauvin trial as to potential juror bias.
The police officer, Kimberly Potter, asserted that she meant to pull out and fire her taser but mistakenly pulled out her service gun and fired bullets.
Video of the incident backed her up. After Wright, wanted on a warrant, broke loose while being handcuffed and got back in his car, she yelled a warning of “I’ll tase you” and “taser, taser, taser” and then reacted when she realized she fired her gun:
Nonetheless, the officer was charged with Second Degree Manslaughter. As Andrew Branca explained with respect to the Chauvin trial:
… second-degree manslaughter requires that the defendant creates an unreasonable risk, and “consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm.” If the state has not proven that the defendant intentionally engaged in conduct that had a reasonably foreseeable risk of causing death or great bodily harm, then the state has not proven the crime of second-degree manslaughter.
Both of these offenses require that the defendant engaged in conduct that was unreasonable, that created a foreseeable risk of deadly force harm, and that the defendant consciously incurred that risk or, alternatively, consciously disregarded that risk. If any of these conditions are not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the underlying crime has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
In late May, the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison took over the case.
The charges have just been upgraded by adding first degree manslaughter::
The former Minnesota police officer accused of fatally shooting Daunte Wright during a traffic stop is now facing a more serious charge in the Black man’s death, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday.
Kim Potter has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the killing of Wright on April 11 in Brooklyn Center, northwest of Minneapolis. The new charge is in addition to a previously filed second-degree manslaughter charge.
A short clip of body-camera video released by police appeared to show Wright trying to get back in his car as a female voice shouts, “Taser!”
The same female voice could be heard later saying, “Holy s— I just shot him,” as the car pulled away, police have said. The indictment says that she also said, “I grabbed the wrong f—ing gun.”
The new charge is first-degree manslaughter by recklessly handling a firearm, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office said.
According to the AG’s Office press statement:
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today filed an amended complaint in the case of State v. Kimberly Potter. The amended complaint adds an additional charge of manslaughter in the first degree, while retaining the original charge of manslaughter in the second degree.
The complaint alleges that former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter committed first-degree manslaughter by recklessly handling a firearm when she fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center on April 11, 2021. The complaint continues to allege — as the original complaint did — that Kimberly Potter committed second-degree manslaughter by culpable negligence by using a firearm.
The charging document provides:
On or about April 11, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Hennepin County, Minnesota, Defendant Kimberly Ann Potter caused the death of Daunte Demetrius Wright, while committing the misdemeanor offense of reckless handling or use of a firearm so as to endanger the safety of another with such force and violence that death or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable.
You can read the First Degree Manslaughter statute here.
The State of Minnesota is going to get this police officer for what was a tragic, but apparently not uncommon, accident:
There is no national data on these kinds of incidents, but law enforcement experts agree that mistaking guns for stun guns, while relatively rare, does happen.
Other cases have occurred in recent years as well. An Americans for Effective Law Enforcement article from 2012 found nine more instances of these accidents between 2001 and 2009. Americans for Effective Law Enforcement is a not-for-profit research organization that focuses on criminal justice….
There have also been more recent instances of a suspect being shot instead of Tasered:
- In 2015, a man was shot dead in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by a volunteer sheriff’s deputy who had accidently pulled out his handgun
- In 2019, a police officer in St Louis, Missouri, mistakenly discharged her revolver and seriously wounded a shoplifter
Doesn’t matter. The State of Minnesota wants her convicted for reasons having nothing to do with the incident, and will spare no expense to achieve that result.DONATE
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