Kimberly Potter, 49, shot and killed Duante Wright on April 11 after allegedly mistaking her gun for a Taser
Attorneys for the Minneapolis cop who fatally shot Daunte Wright after allegedly mistaking her gun for a Taser will argue that his death was an ‘innocent mistake’ at trial next month.
Kimberly Potter, 49, resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department shortly after the April 11 incident. She faces one count of first-degree manslaughter and one count of second-degree manslaughter.
Lawyers Paul Engh and Earl Gray outlined the four defenses they plan on using – ‘Innocent Accident,’ ‘Innocent Mistake,’ ‘Her perceived use of a Taser was reasonable’ and ‘Lack of causation’ – in a Wednesday court filing obtained by the Star Tribune.
The list doesn’t preclude them from using other defense tactics at tiral. Potter is out on $100,000 bail.
Potter stopped Wright for hanging an air freshener from his rearview mirror, according to his mother, who said Wright called her just before he died. Police say he was stopped for having an expired registration.
Wright, 20, had an active arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on charges of fleeing police and having a gun without a permit at the time of the stop.
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Her lawyers filed a list of defenses they will use at her trial, which is set to start in November. Among them are ‘Innocent Mistake and ‘Her perceived use of a Taser was reasonable’
Bodycam footage shows an officer handcuffing Wright, who manages to slide the handcuffs off and jump back in his car.
Potter’s gun was holstered on her right side, while the Taser was on her left.
‘I’ll Taser ya,’ she warned Wright while pointing her gun at him. ‘Taser, Taser, Taser!’
She then shot him in the chest with the real gun before he drove off.
‘Oh s***, I just shot him,’ Wright said.
Wright’s family was devastated by the loss.
Daunte Wright had called his mom and said he was being stopped for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, a misdemeanor in Minnesota
Wright, above with his now two-year-old son, had an active warrant for failing to appear in court on charges of fleeing police and having a gun without a permit
His father Aubrey told Good Morning America: ‘I lost my son. He is never coming back.
‘I can’t accept that. A mistake? That doesn’t even sound right.’
Wright’s April 22 funeral at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis drew the likes of Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
Family members of Philando Castile, Eric Garner and Oscar Grant – other black men killed by police officers – also attended.
‘We’ve come from all over the country because you hurt one of our princes. You thought he was just some kid with air freshener. But he was a prince. All of Minneapolis has stopped today to honor the prince of Brooklyn Center,’ Sharpton said.
A woman holds a Black Lives Matter flag during the funeral service of Daunte Wright outside the Shiloh Temple on April 22
‘My son should be burying me’ said Daunte Wright’s mother Katie Wright, center
Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Ilhan Omar, both Democrats from Minnesota, also attended
The shooting led to days of protests in a city that was already reeling from months-long riots over the death of George Floyd in 2020.
Family lawyer Benjamin Crump mentioned Wright’s two-year-old son.
‘At some point Daunte Jr. is going to get old enough to watch that video of how his father was slain so unnecessarily. A misdemeanor, a misdemeanor,’ Crump said in disbelief.
‘It’s too often the traffic stops end up as deadly sentences, a death sentence. We´re going to have to make sure that Daunte Jr. know that we stood up for Daunte, his father.’
Potter is a 26-year veteran officer who became a cop in 1995 at age 22. The married mother-of-two was also the president of the Brooklyn Center Police Department’s union.
A year-and-a-half before shooting Wright, she was involved in the police killing of Kobe Dimock-Heisler, a 21-year-old autistic man.
In August 2019, his grandfather called the police on him after he allegedly grabbed a knife and a hammer in an altercation that began when a restaurant got his order wrong, according to KARE.
Dispatch notes show the grandfather, who had raised him since he was six, later told 911, ‘He’s probably going to be okay, just forget it.’
When officers arrived, Dimock-Heisler ‘sprang from his chair, grabbed a knife and attempted to stab one of the officers,’ according to a report from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
‘Three officers fired their Tasers, with no effect. Then, and only then, did they fire their guns.’
Prosecutors declined to charge the officers involved.
Dimock-Heisler’s mother Amity told Minnesota Public Radio that her son was not a threat.
‘My son only had a history of hurting himself, nobody else,’ she said. ‘And so when you hear them try to say something different, don’t believe it.’
The report found that Potter told two officers involved in the shooting to ‘exit the residence, get into separate squad cars, turn off their body worn cameras, and to not talk to each other.’