The Day – EXPLAINER: Officer’s Taser mix manslaughter?

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A white police officer in suburban Minneapolis charged with manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright, a black man, said she intended to use her Taser to try to kill him. prevent fleeing during an attempted arrest, but accidentally grabbed his gun instead.

Jury selection for Kim Potter’s trial begins Tuesday. When prosecutors begin presenting their case next week, they will argue that Potter, who left the Central Brooklyn Police Force two days after the shooting, committed first- and second-degree manslaughter when she killed the 20-year-old black man during a traffic stop on April 11. Here is an overview of the fees and potential penalties:


Under Minnesota law, first-degree manslaughter in this case means prosecutors allege Potter caused Wright’s death by committing the offense of “reckless handling or use of a firearm in a manner to endanger the safety of others with such force and violence that death or serious bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable.

The second-degree manslaughter charge alleges that she caused her death “by her culpable negligence, whereby Kimberly Potter caused an unreasonable risk and knowingly took the risk of causing death or grievous bodily harm to Daunte Demetrius Wright, while using or possessing a firearm”.

Neither charge requires prosecutors to prove that Potter intended to kill Wright.

The attorney general’s office added the charge of first-degree manslaughter after taking over the case, although it did not live up to the murder charge that the family and activists of Wright wanted.


According to the complaint, the officer Potter was training with, Anthony Luckey, told Wright they arrested him for the air freshener hanging from his car’s rearview mirror and because he had expired license plate tabs. . But Luckey did a check and found that Wright had an outstanding warrant for a weapons violation, so officers returned to Wright’s car to arrest him.

Wright obeyed Luckey’s order to get out, but as Luckey handcuffed him, Wright walked away and returned. As Luckey clung to Wright, Potter said “I’m going to taser you.” Potter’s body camera video shows her then holding her sidearm in her right hand and pointing it at Wright. Potter repeated “I’m going to taser you”, then two seconds later he said “Taser, Taser, Taser”. A second later, she fired a single bullet into Wright’s chest.

“(Expletive)! I grabbed the wrong gun (expletive),” Potter was heard saying. “I’m going to jail.”


The maximum for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years; for the second degree, it is 10 years. But Minnesota judges are following sentencing guidelines that normally require less — just over seven years for the first degree and four years for the second degree.

But prosecutors have said they will seek a longer sentence based on aggravating factors, which they did during the murder trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd.

The longest sentences that could possibly remain on appeal are double the top of the guidelines range. But that’s more than the legal maximum of 15 years for first-degree manslaughter, so 15 years would be the cap for Potter if she’s convicted. The realistic maximum on the lesser load would be 9 [1/2] year.

Assuming good behavior, Minnesota offenders typically serve two-thirds of their time in jail and one-third on probation.


The judge in the Chauvin case sentenced him to 22 [1/2] years for second degree unintentional murder. The presumptive sentence was 12 [1/2] year. But Judge Peter Cahill found several aggravating factors, including that Chauvin abused his position of authority and treated Floyd with particular cruelty, and that several children were live witnesses to the crime. He also said Chauvin knew kneeling on Floyd’s neck was dangerous.

Most recently, Judge Kathryn Quaintance sentenced former Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor to four years and nine months in prison for second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Justine Damond Ruszczyk, who was at the top of the range of guidelines. She said she did it because Noor shot her partner “in the nose” and put the others in danger. She couldn’t sentence him more because prosecutors hadn’t asked for a “superior deviation” from sentencing guidelines.

Quaintance initially sentenced Noor to 12 years [1/2] years for third-degree murder, as the guidelines required, but the Minnesota Supreme Court later clarified the definition of third-degree murder and returned the case for re-sentencing only for manslaughter.

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