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For the cop who shot Daunte Wright, will the ‘wrong gun’ plea work?

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – When a Minneapolis suburban police officer shot and killed Daunte Wright in April, her reaction on the body camera video seemed to immediately establish key details of the case: “I took the wrong (proper) gun,” Kim Potter speak. “I’m going to jail.”

But legal experts say the conviction of Potter, who says she intended to drag her Taser, is not as certain as it seems – at least on The most serious crime she faces, first-degree manslaughter. Jury selection begins on Tuesday.

The shooting of Okay, a 20-year-old black guy, by a white officer sparked violent protests in Downtown Brooklyn just as nearby Minneapolis had sprung up as fired city officer Derek Chauvin was put on trial following the death of George Floyd.

The concrete barriers, chain link fences and National Guard soldiers that surrounded the court for that trial have disappeared, but increased security will be provided for Potter’s trial – with little More entrances and garages are closed.

Potter, who resigned two days after the shooting, said she made an innocent mistake by reaching for her pistol instead of her Taser. But prosecutors, including the team leader got Chauvin convicted of murder, saying that Wright’s death was manslaughter and that Potter, an experienced officer trained to understand better, should go to prison.

The big questions for the judges will be whether Potter’s actions increased to the level of reckless recklessness or reprehensible negligence, as required by law. Defense attorneys also argued that Wright was responsible for his own death because he attempted to drive from a traffic stop and could have dragged an officer to his death if Potter had not intervened. .

“What we made was essentially an innocent mistake,” defense attorney Earl Gray said in a preview of his arguments. “That she wasn’t regrettably negligent and that she didn’t cause Mr. Wright’s death. He caused his own death.”

According to the complaint, the training officer Potter, Anthony Luckey, told Wright they intercepted him on the afternoon of April 11 let the air freshener hang on his rearview mirror and expired license plate tabs. Luckey later found an arrest warrant for a weapons violation. They returned to arrest him, along with Sgt. Mychal Johnson.

Wright obeyed Luckey to get out. But as Luckey was handcuffing him, Wright pulled away and returned. As Luckey held onto Wright, Potter said, “I’ll help you.” The video then shows Potter, holding a pistol in his right hand and pointing it at Wright. Again, Potter said, “I’ll tease,” and then two seconds later: “Taser, Taser, Taser.” A second later, she fired a bullet into Wright’s chest.

“(Absolute)! I just shot him. … I got a wrong (expired) gun,” said Potter. A minute later, she said, “I’m going to jail.”

Prosecutors allege that Potter committed first-degree manslaughter by causing Wright’s death while committing a misdemeanor, namely recklessly wielding a firearm, when death was reasonably foreseeable. reasonable. Second degree manslaughter alleges that she acted with reprehensible negligence. Neither charge requires murderous intent.

Prosecutors suggested in the pre-trial filing that Potter shouldn’t even have used her Taser. Police may have found Wright later so officers should let him drive away, they suggested.

Experts agree that draw guns instead of stun guns is rare. To avoid confusion, officers often carry stun guns on their weak side, with their unusual hands, and stay away from handguns on their strong side. That’s how the officers of the Brooklyn Center were trained and how Potter arranged his belt. And there are some obvious differences between the two weapons. For one thing, a Taser is yellow. An all-black Glock.

Joe Friedberg, a local defense attorney who was not involved in the case, said Wright’s attempt to drive while Officer Johnson was in the vehicle was sufficient grounds for Potter to intentionally shoot and kill him – and That should be enough to acquit, he said.

Mike Brandt, another local defense attorney not involved in the case, sees it differently. He said it was clear Potter mishandled a gun – an element of first-degree manslaughter – although the jury may be fighting over whether she did it recklessly. “Regrettable negligence” or irrational risk-taking is easier to prove, making second-degree manslaughter more likely, Brandt said.

In one of the most famous cases of taking a gun instead of a Taser, a transit officer in Oakland, California, killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant in 2009. Johannes Mehserle was sentenced to two years in prison for manslaughter. Voluntary.

Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, who won a $2.8 million settlement for the Grant family, said Taser’s mix has dwindled since police were across the land. The country increased training on stun guns after Grant’s death.

Burris says he thinks Potter has a right to a reasonable use of force and can gain credit from the jury for intending to use her Taser. And if that happens, he said, the best the prosecution can get is a conviction on a lesser charge. But if the jury agreed that she shouldn’t have used her Taser, he added, they could have found it to be first-degree manslaughter.

However, if Potter showed remorse, she would receive sympathy that could lead to acquittal or hanging, Burris said.

“These are difficult cases,” he said. “A lot of emotions come in a case like that. If an officer has no intention of killing someone, that officer gets emotional. That emotion will have an impact on jurors. “

Lawyers are expected close jury for their attitude towards the sometimes destructive protests that occurred in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death. Questionnaires sent out to potential jurors asked about their views on those protests and others over the past two years, as well as whether they participated in, suffered injuries or suffered damages. property or not, or know anyone who has experienced it.

Similar questionnaires were used in the Chauvin trial, where jury selection took 11 days and his attorney repeatedly asked potential jurors if they could dismiss strong public opinion. and make a fair judgment or not.

Potter’s trial period allowed at least six days to be selected by the jury, with opening statements no earlier than December 8.

Zaynab Mohamed, the director of public advocacy for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Muslim Relations, is one of the activists who have repeatedly demonstrated outside their homes. district prosecutor who originally had Potter’s case to have a murder charge filed. That didn’t work, but in the end the prosecutor handing over the case to Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office.

Mohamed said people are “more energetic than ever.” She said that an acquittal of Potter would mean another outburst.

“I think there will be levels of anger, and people will take to the streets like they did after the murder of George Floyd,” she said.

https://wgntv.com/crime/for-cop-who-shot-daunte-wright-will-wrong-gun-plea-work/ For the cop who shot Daunte Wright, will the ‘wrong gun’ plea work?

CELINE CASTRONUOVO

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