In a recent incident, a police officer killed a man and prosecution began where prosecutors ended their closing arguments where the panel will decide on former police officer Kim Potter’s murder case. In April, Potter shot dead Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man during a traffic stop in Minneapolis.
Judge Regina Chu reminded the jurors he is sure to understand this is a significant and serious matter that requires your full attention and we will wait for your decision.
When Potter entered the stand on Friday, she cried as she testified that she meant to use her stun gun instead of her handgun when she shot Wright. She also expressed fear that he might be carrying a weapon after learning that Wright had an arrest warrant for a gun offense.
Potter is charged with two charges of manslaughter are first degree and second-degree manslaughter.
The jury claimed that Potter had undergone specialized training on how to use a firearm and a stun gun and that her use of the stun gun in this situation was inappropriate. Meanwhile, defense lawyers have suggested that Potter’s use of force was justified but another officer was leaning into the passenger side of the car at the time and they were afraid Wright would drive away.
According to the defense, Wright’s gunshot was an accident. The death incident sparked protests in the city and it occurred while former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial was underway in Minneapolis.
Potter Should Have Known the Difference Between Her Firearm and Shotgun
Eldridge repeated arguments throughout the case in his direct reply to the panel that Potter should have known she had used her service weapon and knowing that culprit’s escape had no bearing on the matter that Potter fired the kill shot.
Potter had received regular training on weapon confusion during her entire police career but she still used her handgun during the traffic stop and held it for nearly five seconds before firing on Wright. This was neither a minor blunder nor a case of putting the improper date on a checkbook.
This was not a case of mistyping a password. This was a massive blunder Eldridge said. It was exactly what she had been warned of for years and she had been taught how to avoid it.
Eldridge also criticized the defense’s claims that Potter fired because she was afraid Wright was about to drive away and threatened the life of her colleague officer, Johnson, who was leaning against the car’s passenger door but did not seem to like being dragged.
He never stated that he was afraid. He did not say anything at the time and he did not testify in court about it. Eldridge encouraged the jury to put their emotions concerning Potter aside and focus on the two charges she faces.
Potter was Permitted to Use Deadly Force, Defence Says
During an argument, defense counsel Earl Gray said that Potter did not provoke the situation that resulted in Wright’s death and that her use of deadly force was lawful. Gray described the traffic stop as chaos and claimed Wright’s decision to resist arrest and flee was to blame for his death.
He was anxious about not going to jail. He was not going to pay attention to these cops mentioned by Gray.
This is the reason that the police officers had done everything they were required to do at that point. The lawyer also mentioned the evidence of certain witnesses who claimed that Potter was justified in using lethal force since Johnson was leaning into the car as Wright prepared to drive away.
In Minnesota, causing someone’s death while also committing a violation, in this case, reckless firearm handling is considered first-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors need not establish that the suspect is guilty of negligence in taking measures that put him or her at an unreasonable risk of causing death or serious bodily damage.
Potter Did Not Feel Killing Was Appropriate
During an argument, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank said that in-camera evidence from the moment before the killing, Potter expressed shock that she shot Wright and expressed she thought she would go to prison for it and Potter’s actions prove that he did not believe the use of lethal force was appropriate.
Making a mistake is not a justification for breaking the law, Frank said to the jurors.
A Prosecution Petition for a Mistrial Is Rejected by the Judge
Gray and colleague attorney Paul Engh urged a mistrial after Chu ordered the jury to begin arguments. Engh claimed that in his reply that Frank read from pre-written notes and went beyond the scope of the defense team’s closing arguments instead presenting a lengthy reply of a quick argument.
Gray also requested a mistrial, claiming that throughout his argument, Frank misrepresented the law to the jurors. Hence, the motion for a mistrial was refused by Chu.
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