Former police officer Kimberly Potter was found guilty Thursday of first- and second-degree manslaughter, according to CNN.
Potter, formerly of the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police department, shot Daunte Wright to death during a traffic stop. Potter has said she meant to use a Taser on Wright, but instead fired her service weapon, killing him.
The case has been a high-profile trial because Potter is white and Wright was black.
Potter faced charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter for killing Wright during the April 11 traffic stop. Thursday was the fourth day of deliberations that followed more than a week of testimony, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Conviction on first-degree manslaughter would require jurors to determine Potter is guilty of reckless handling of a firearm. That required a belief she committed a conscious or intentional act creating a substantial or unjustifiable risk of which she was aware.
For second-degree manslaughter, the standard for conviction is culpable negligence, meaning Potter consciously acted in a way that gave the chance of causing death or great bodily harm.
Attorneys gave the jury very different versions of what the case was all about.
“It’s about the reckless handling of a firearm, and it’s about the disregard of known risks. It’s about an officer who knew she could kill someone if she got it wrong but failed to make sure she got it right,” said Erin Eldridge, an assistant attorney general for the state of Minnesota, said in her opening statement, according to NPR.
Potter’s defense has said Potter made a tragic mistake, saying that she was in fear of possible consequences to police Sgt. Mychal Johnson if Wright drove off.
Potter intended to draw her Taser, but drew her service weapon, defense attorney Paul Engh said, “much to her everlasting and unending regret.”
“She made a mistake. This was an accident. She’s a human being. But she had to do what she had to do to prevent a death to a fellow officer,” said Engh.
Wright was stopped for expired registration and a dangling air freshener. After the stop, and before they dealt with Wright, police learned there was an arrest warrant out for Wright on a weapons charge.
After stepping out of his car, Wright broke free and jumped in his car to flee. Wright was trying to drive off as he was shot.
Engh said Wright had the option of obeying Potter and refused to do so
“She said, ‘I’ll tase you, I’ll tase you.’ The language was direct. It was clear. It was unmistakable. And all Mr. Wright had to do was stop,” Engh said, according to NPR.
Officer Anthony Luckey testified that he tried to talk Wright out of driving off, according to KSTP-TV.
Luckey said he told Wright, “Don’t do it, bro.”
Luckey said he heard Potter tell Wright, “I’m gonna tase you” before Wright was shot.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.