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Ex-cop who killed Daunte Wright lays out possible defense

Kim Potter/Courtesy Hennepin County

Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter's trial is set to start Nov. 30. Attorneys for Potter said in documents made public Thursday that they may argue that Wright's death was an innocent accident or an innocent mistake.

Posted: Oct 14, 2021 2:00 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A former suburban Minneapolis police officer who has said she meant to use a Taser instead of a handgun when she shot and killed Daunte Wright in April is laying out her potential defenses ahead of her November trial.

Attorneys for former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter said in documents made public Thursday that they may argue that the death of Wright, a Black motorist, was an innocent accident or an innocent mistake. They also may argue that Potter's “perceived use of a Taser was reasonable” and that there is a lack of causation, meaning her conduct wasn’t a substantial factor in his death.

Attorney Paul Engh wrote that Potter may argue other defenses as more evidence is reviewed.

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 a count of first-degree manslaughter last month.

The defense has asked for the new charge to be dismissed. The first-degree manslaughter count alleges Potter recklessly handled a firearm and endangered Wright’s safety when death or great bodily harm was reasonably foreseeable.

Engh wrote that when Potter shouted, “Taser! Taser! Taser!” it was evident 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 couldn’t have been aware of the risk and then ignore it.

“What the jury will see and hear about instead is an accident,” Engh wrote. “And a police officer’s accidental shot is not a crime.”

Engh said that if Potter intended to use her Taser, then she did not intend to shoot Wright, and the facts don't fit either charge against her.

“The State can’t prove any offense by playing the video, which shows an accident,” Engh wrote. “The prosecution can’t win on Officer Potter’s shouts of ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ words meaning she was going to use her TASER, so as to not harm Mr. Wright. Nor for reasons of her enormous after-the-fact regret of what could not have been a conscious act.”

Prosecutors have 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 that the state is not accusing Potter of intentionally killing Wright, but that she “consciously and intentionally acted in choosing to use force ... in reaching for, drawing, pointing, and manipulating a weapon.”

Engh is also taking issue with a prosecution use-of-force expert, Seth Stoughton, who Engh says has put forth a false narrative that Potter should have let Wright drive away, presuming he would be arrested later. Engh argued that Wright created a dangerous situation as he tried to drive away and, “Officer Potter could not ignore Mr. Wright's danger. He had to be 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 that case, Stoughton testified that no “reasonable” officer would have done what Chauvin did — held Floyd facedown with a knee across his neck for up to 9 minutes, 29 seconds.

Potter's trial is scheduled to start Nov. 30.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 755401

Reported Deaths: 8531
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1513291905
Ramsey62614972
Dakota56158520
Anoka53010513
Washington33145327
Stearns27922252
St. Louis23178352
Scott21316159
Wright20879170
Olmsted17821118
Sherburne15232111
Carver1336954
Clay1006598
Rice9855131
Blue Earth949559
Crow Wing9254105
Kandiyohi819195
Chisago816662
Otter Tail7807104
Benton7363108
Beltrami633276
Mower631740
Douglas616189
Goodhue603683
Winona603653
Itasca596978
McLeod580868
Steele572425
Isanti558172
Morrison541565
Becker518762
Polk502577
Freeborn480842
Nobles477052
Lyon444456
Carlton438666
Nicollet423051
Pine419930
Cass413142
Mille Lacs403565
Brown398846
Todd389336
Le Sueur378331
Meeker350452
Waseca322629
Martin316534
Wabasha28495
Hubbard283644
Dodge26819
Roseau258924
Fillmore236312
Redwood234143
Wadena230229
Houston229017
Renville224249
Faribault214630
Pennington213227
Sibley204512
Cottonwood193027
Kanabec187130
Chippewa185839
Aitkin178442
Watonwan168711
Pope15328
Rock153219
Yellow Medicine151120
Jackson144114
Koochiching137219
Clearwater133318
Swift132619
Pipestone131627
Marshall131419
Murray131310
Stevens122311
Lake106221
Wilkin100214
Lac qui Parle95024
Mahnomen86312
Norman8459
Big Stone7874
Grant7669
Lincoln7525
Kittson59522
Red Lake5769
Unassigned528124
Traverse5005
Lake of the Woods4524
Cook2420

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 467281

Reported Deaths: 6685
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk73698716
Linn28680379
Scott24441271
Black Hawk20130355
Woodbury18854242
Johnson17800100
Dubuque15577228
Pottawattamie14073197
Dallas13894107
Story1275148
Warren763496
Webster6876111
Cerro Gordo6816107
Clinton6814100
Des Moines657893
Marshall635484
Muscatine6294113
Wapello5807136
Jasper571478
Lee560787
Sioux560276
Marion499791
Buena Vista489745
Plymouth459187
Henry378647
Jones365160
Washington362255
Bremer353867
Benton352056
Boone344837
Carroll341753
Crawford337345
Mahaska313656
Dickinson297651
Clay274631
Buchanan274239
Jackson270445
Kossuth269373
Hardin266448
Tama261476
Fayette253848
Delaware253444
Cedar246326
Page244827
Wright240945
Winneshiek230837
Hamilton228553
Floyd216744
Harrison215277
Madison214325
Clayton210058
Poweshiek206840
Iowa204229
Butler203237
Jefferson197340
Mills197227
Allamakee192952
Cherokee191943
Lyon190641
Cass190557
Winnebago185432
Hancock184739
Calhoun184115
Appanoose175950
Shelby174239
Louisa169651
Grundy167937
Emmet163842
Franklin163328
Humboldt161826
Mitchell161843
Union159437
Chickasaw156418
Sac156323
Guthrie154034
Palo Alto140831
Clarke140028
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Monroe131534
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Ida116641
Davis113825
Greene113712
Lucas112224
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Monona107436
Worth10678
Adair103634
Osceola91117
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Taylor78612
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