Kim Potter’s Use of Force Was Not Justified

In this screen grab from video, Seth Stoughton, associate law professor at the University of South Carolina, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presides over court Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter in the April 11, 2021, death of Daunte Wright, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

“The use of deadly force was not appropriate and the evidence suggests a reasonable officer in Officer Potter’s position could not have believed it was proportional to the threat at the time,” said Seth Wayne Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Kim Potter, who resigned from the Brooklyn Center police force two days after she shot and killed Duante Wright, has said she meant to pull her Taser instead of her gun after Wright attempted to drive away as officers tried to arrest him on an outstanding weapons possession charge.

The defense has called the shooting a horrific mistake, but has also asserted that Potter would have been within her rights to use deadly force on Wright because he might have dragged another officer with his car.

Potter, 49, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Wright, who was pulled over on April 11 for having expired license plate tags and an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror. Video captured the moments when Wright pulled away from officers who were trying to arrest him on the outstanding warrant, with Potter shouting “I’ll tase you!” and then shooting Wright with her handgun.

Judge Regina Chu ruled Tuesday that if Potter is convicted of one or both of the manslaughter counts against her, she would preside over a separate trial to determine if there were aggravating factors that would allow Chu to give Potter a sentence above what the state’s guidelines suggest.

– Ella Breedlove