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Kim Potter Endangered Not Only Daunte Wright, But Also Her Fellow Officers During Fatal Shooting: Prosecutor


Former police officer Kim Potter did not just endanger victim Daunte Wright in a fateful April 11 traffic stop, a prosecutor said Monday. She also put her fellow officers at risk.

“We’re here because this was entirely preventable,” prosecutor Erin Eldridge told jurors in a Minnesota courtroom.

Potter shot and killed Wright during a tragic traffic stop, when officers were trying to arrest him for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and he tried to flee. As seen on bodycam video, Potter repeatedly yelled she was going to use a Taser, but she grabbed her gun instead and fired. Potter’s defense asserted in opening statements that Wright was about to drive away, and would have dragged police Sgt. Mychal Johnson, who was standing at the passenger-side door.

Potter said on bodycam footage that the shooting was a mistake.

“I grabbed the wrong fucking gun!” Potter said. “I shot him! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

But Eldridge said that Potter’s actions endangered both Johnson and training officer Andrew Luckey.

“It was a tragedy of her own making,” Eldridge said.

No one was dragged that day, and no one was almost dragged, she said. Potter, who had 26 years of experience and 19 years of experience with Tasers, was initially behind Luckey at the driver’s side during the struggle, and did not have a clear view of what was happening. Johnson was at the other side grabbing Wright, Eldridge said. In the state’s interpretation of events, he was in no danger of being dragged off.

And yet Potter freed her right hand–her gun hand–of a piece of paper, grabbed her firearm, and opened fire while repeatedly yelling “Taser!” She fired so close to Luckey that the shell casing struck him in the face, Eldridge said. On top of that, Johnson and car passenger Alayna Albrecht-Payton were in the line of fire, the prosecutor said. If anyone saved Johnson, it was Wright by taking the bullet, which tore through his heart, the state said.

Potter did not intend to kill him, but she nonetheless took the unnecessary risk, the prosecutor said. This was culpable negligence, constituting second-degree manslaughter, according to the state’s closing.

Eldridge emphasized Potter’s testimony that she would not have stopped the vehicle for expired tags and an air freshener if she were alone. Officers decided to arrest Wright upon discovering that he had a petty misdemeanor warrant.

“It wasn’t a bad warrant,” Potter testified. “It was just a regular petty warrant.”

On bodycam footage from immediately after the shooting, a distraught Potter could also be heard saying she was going to go to prison. Jurors will soon have an opportunity to make that decision.

[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]

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