Ex-cop who killed Daunte Wright lays out possible defense

Oct 14, 2021, 11:29 AM | Updated: 3:11 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 might argue that the death of Wright, a Black motorist, was an innocent accident or an innocent mistake. They also might argue that Potter’s “perceived use of a Taser was reasonable” and that there is a lack of causation, meaning Wright is also partly to blame for his own death.

Attorney Paul Engh wrote that Potter might present 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.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A Ukrainian serviceman sits on a T-80 tank that they claimed had been captured from the Russian arm...
Associated Press

Ukrainian troops claim gains in Russia-annexed region

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian troops pushed forward Monday with their offensive that has embarrassed Moscow, with Kyiv officials and foreign observers hinting at new gains in the strategic southern region of Kherson that the Kremlin wants to annex. Kherson has been one of the toughest battlefields for the Ukrainians, with slower progress when compared […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Poland demands $1.3 trillion in war damages from Germany

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s foreign minister on Monday signed an official note to Germany requesting the payment of some $1.3 trillion in reparations for the damage incurred by occupying Nazi Germans during World War II. Zbigniew Rau said the note will be handed to Germany’s Foreign Ministry. The signing comes on the eve of […]
5 hours ago
Google's web address, is displayed on a screen in Philadelphia, April 26, 2017. Google has disconti...
Associated Press

Google discontinues Google Translate in mainland China

HONG KONG (AP) — Google has discontinued its Google Translate services in mainland China, removing one of the company’s few remaining services that it had provided in a country where most Western social media platforms are blocked. The Google Translate app and website now display a generic search bar and a link redirecting Chinese users […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Kimberly Palmer: How to handle your medical bills

When she was 19, writer Emily Maloney found herself facing about $50,000 in medical debt after hospital treatment for a mental health crisis. The debt followed her throughout her twenties, hurting her credit and leading to stressful calls from collection agencies. Her experience is all too common: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that about […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

Jerzy Urban, spokesman for Polish communist govt, dies at 89

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Jerzy Urban, a spokesman for Poland’s communist-era government in the 1980s who masterminded state propaganda and censorship for a regime in the final years before its collapse, has died. He was 89. His death was announced on Monday by a satirical weekly magazine, Nie (No), which he founded and led in […]
5 hours ago
A shadow is cast on the stage of the Trafo House of Contemporary Arts while technicians set up the ...
Associated Press

Music stops: Energy costs close Hungary theaters for winter

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A theater in Hungary’s capital will sit through a cold and quiet winter after its managers chose to shut it down rather than pay skyrocketing utility prices that are putting a squeeze on businesses and cultural institutions across Europe. The 111-year-old Erkel Theatre in Budapest, one of three performance spaces of […]
5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
Ex-cop who killed Daunte Wright lays out possible defense