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Daunte Wright’s killer blames him for his own death

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Daunte Wright’s killer blames him for his own death

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The trial of Kim Potter, the 48-year-old white cop who shot dead Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, last April, is underway, and the defense is trying to get him in both. meaning with his argument.

Potter, who says she intended to use her Taser instead of her weapon, has been charged with first and second degree manslaughter. Defense attorneys argue that while Potter’s actions were a mistake, she would have been justified in shooting Wright anyway.

This idea that his death was a “mistake” was carried early on in the news and headlines, and the manslaughter rather than murder charges also suggest the shooting was unintentional. But now that Potter is on trial, the defense is making a different argument: The only person to blame for Daunte Wright’s death is Daunte Wright.

Potter was training Officer Anthony Luckey on April 11 when the couple arrested Wright because a an air freshener was hanging from his rearview mirror. Officers verified his information and found that Wright had an outstanding warrant for aggravated armed robbery, failure to appear, escape from a police officer and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

When Potter tried to stop Wright, he got back into the car. In body camera footage, Potter calls out, “Taser, Taser, Taser!” She then draws her gun and shoots Wright at close range. The young man tries to get away, but the vehicle hits an oncoming car and dies. Forensic scientists later confirmed that Wright was shot dead.

The footage shows Potter swearing and crying. “Holy shit, I just shot him” she moans.

Potter resigned two days later, as protests erupted in suburban Minneapolis. She was charged with second degree manslaughter and arrested on April 14. After careful consideration of the case, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison added that more serious charge of first degree manslaughter in September.

In their opening statement, the prosecution said the shooting violated public confidence in the police.

“We trust them to know the evil of the right and the left of the right,” Deputy Attorney General Erin Eldridge said noted in the prosecution’s opening statement. “This case concerns the accused Kimberly Potter who betrayed her badge, oath and position of public trust on April 11 of this year.”

However, defense attorney Paul Engh said in his opening statement that Potter called the shooting a mistake “to his eternal and endless regret. But, disconcertingly, he also said that she would have been within her rights had she chosen to use deadly force against Wright, which begs the question: How can this be both a mistake and a mistake. justified shooting?

That leaves all the task to the jury, which will make a decision once both parties have finished their business.

Imagine if this same logic were applied to another scenario. Let’s say your coworker called you derogatory term via email, but when you report it to HR, your coworker says it’s actually an autocorrect and he sincerely regrets it. But while the autocorrect wasn’t to blame, the colleague said, they were well within their rights to call you that term – because you are a.

This is the heart of the defense argument. Potter had no intention of killing Wright, but he deserved to be killed… so what’s the problem?

Underlying this argument is the lie that our legal system so often accepts as the truth: No matter what a police officer does, it is justified. The defense wants the jury to believe that Potter was a good cop who wouldn’t shoot a black man without cause – but also that that same black man was so dangerous that violence was the option.

Mychal Johnson, a former Brooklyn Center police sergeant called to the scene that day, testified that Potter had the right to use deadly force. “Based on those videos and Daunte Wright’s behavior… Kimberly Potter would have been allowed to use a gun, right?” defense attorney Earl Gray request. “Yes,” Johnson replied, adding that if Potter had not shot Wright he could have been dragged by the car and seriously injured or killed. Minnesota law allows police to use lethal force to prevent death or serious injury. It’s no secret that the cops have a lot of discretion in these situations.

Police violence was not invented in 2020. But it was the year the coronavirus pandemic collided with several high-profile police murders, especially when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer from Minneapolis, murdered George Floyd, a black man, kneeling on the neck for about nine minutes. Floyd’s death sparked a nationwide protest movement. The so-called racial calculation had finally arrived! But it was still short-lived. By the time Chauvin went on trial in early 2021, the backlash from the protests and the whole concept of racial justice had already started. Potter killed Wright just 10 miles from Minneapolis, and just days before Chauvin’s guilty verdict.

But perhaps the most jarring aspect of the defense strategy in this case is how different it is from Potter’s immediate reaction. She is clearly upset by the incident in the footage, and her fellow officers said they were worried she might hurt herself. But instead of presenting the case as a real mistake and what the consequences of that mistake should look like, Potter’s lawyers argue that the only person who made mistakes on that fateful day was the deceased.

“All Mr. Wright had to do was stop”, Engh said during his opening statement. “All he had to do was surrender. All Wright had to do to prevent his own death was to do one simple thing. Of course, what is not said is that all Potter had to do was not confuse his Taser with his weapon.


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