Former Minneapolis suburban policewoman who said she intended to use a Taser instead of a handgun when she shot Daunte Wright in April exposes her potential defenses
MINNEAPOLIS – A former Minneapolis suburban policewoman who said she intended to use a Taser instead of a handgun when she shot Daunte Wright in April exposes her potential defenses ahead of her trial. November.
Lawyers for former Brooklyn Center agent Kim Potter said in documents released Thursday that they could argue the death of Wright, a black motorist, was an innocent accident or an innocent mistake. They could also argue that “Potter’s perceived use of a Taser was reasonable” and that there is no causal connection, meaning that Wright is also partly responsible for his own death.
Lawyer Paul Engh wrote that Potter may present other defenses as more evidence is considered.
Potter, who is white, killed Wright, 20, during a traffic stop on April 11. She was initially charged with second degree manslaughter, but prosecutors added one count of first degree manslaughter last month.
The defense requested that the new charge be dismissed. The count of first degree homicide alleges that Potter recklessly handled a firearm and endangered Wright’s safety when death or grievous bodily harm was reasonably foreseeable.
Engh wrote this when Potter yelled, “Taser! Taser! Taser! It was obvious she thought she was using her Taser, not her gun. Engh said Potter didn’t know she was about to create a risk of harm to Wright and that she couldn’t have been aware of the risk and then ignored it.
“What the jury will see and hear instead is an accident,” Engh wrote. “And the accidental shooting of a police officer is not a crime.”
Engh said that if Potter intended to use his Taser then she did not intend to shoot Wright, and the facts do not match any of the charges against her.
“The state cannot prove any offense by showing the video, which shows an accident,” Engh wrote. “The prosecution cannot win over Agent Potter’s cries of ‘Taser, Taser, Taser’, words meaning she was going to use her TASER, so as not to harm Mr. Wright.” Nor for the sake of his enormous regret afterwards for what could not have been a conscious act. “
Prosecutors argued that there is evidence to prove the elements of both charges at trial, where the case will be decided by a jury. They say the State is not accusing Potter of intentionally killing Wright, but that it “acted consciously and intentionally in choosing to use force … by seeking, shooting, pointing and manipulating armed”.
Engh also takes issue with a prosecution’s use of force expert Seth Stoughton, who Engh says has advanced a false account that Potter should have let Wright go, assuming he would be arrested later. Engh argued that Wright created a dangerous situation as he tried to get away and, “Agent Potter could not ignore the danger to Mr. Wright. He must have been arrested.
Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, also testified for the state in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted in the death of George Floyd. In this case, Stoughton testified that no “reasonable” officer would have done what Chauvin did – held Floyd face down with one knee around his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Potter’s trial is scheduled to begin on November 30.