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Kim Potter May Claim ‘Innocent Accident’ and ‘Innocent Mistake’ Defenses in Daunte Wright Shooting Death


Daunte Wright and Kim Potter

The veteran police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old Minnesota man in April is set to argue that the incident was the result of an accident and mistake, according to court filings.

In a Hennepin County court filing Thursday, former police officer Kim Potter said that she may offer the following four defenses in the shooting death of Daunte Wright:

A) Innocent Accident.
B) Innocent Mistake.
C) Her perceived use of a Taser was reasonable.
D) Lack of Causation

It is undisputed that Potter shot and killed Wright during a traffic stop in April. Potter, who served as a Minnesota police officer for 26 years, had warned Wright that she was going to use a Taser, but instead shot him with her gun. Right after the shooting, Wright drove away in a white sedan, crashed nearby, and subsequently died.

The “Notices of Defense” was one of three filings from Potter. She also filed a request that Minnesota be required to share “both evidence impeaching and favorable to the defense,” and her response to the state’s opposition to her motion to dismiss and other pretrial motions.

In the evidence motion, Potter seeks information about Wright, including “the numerous and evident crimes Mr. Wright has committed, whether or not formally charged, particularly those concerning crimes of violence and flight from police.”

Potter also wants details about Wright’s “purported gang affiliation,” and details about his family’s potential civil lawsuit against the city of Brooklyn Center. (Wright’s estate, meanwhile, is currently facing multiple lawsuits for injuries allegedly caused by Wright prior to his death.)

Potter also requested details about the state’s use of force expert, Seth Staughton.

Potter’s wide-ranging reply to the state’s opposition to Potter’s motion to dismiss covers a range of topics. The motion attacks Minnesota’s legal arguments, and appears to accuse the state of paying for evidence.

“When the facts do not support any charge, why not just pay for evidence, and hire an expert to announce her guilt? That’s what the prosecution’s case is about, really,” the motion says.

Much of the motion appears to rebut anticipated testimony from the state’s use of force expert, Seth Staughton, using dramatic language to challenge Staughton’s opinion that Wright was not a danger to the community.

“[Staughton’s] report, if left unchallenged, will promote a false narrative, namely that because Mr. Wright was ‘unlikely to avoid later apprehension,’ he did not pose an ‘imminent threat,’” the motion says. “Hence, Mr. Staughton allows, the Officers should have let him go to commit other crimes.”

“Ergo, the Officers at the scene should have ignored this Court’s arrest warrant and just allowed Mr. Wright to commit more crimes as was his daily want,” the motion says, later adding that Staughton’s opinion is that Potter “should have done nothing, and let her colleagues later find Mr. Wright somewhere in the wasteland. An approach to policing that has been deemed untenable.”

The motion also challenges the state’s arguments against Potter’s own expert witness, who would counter Staughton’s opinion as to why Potter grabbed her Taser instead of her gun. That testimony, the motion says, would support Potter’s defense that Wright’s death is the result of an innocent mistake, the result of the “slip and capture … phenomenon that happens in police work.”

Potter also wants to challenge anticipated testimony from Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, because she was convicted on a felony drug charge months before her son’s death, and “any felony conviction is probative of a witness’s credibility.”

Potter is facing manslaughter charges in Wright’s death. Her trial is set to begin on Nov. 30.

The shooting occurred while former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was on trial for George Floyd’s murder.

You can read the filings, below.

[Image of Daunte Wright via Attorney Ben Crump and GoFundMe; image of Kim Potter via the Hennepin County, Minn. Jail]

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