Prosecutors in Kim Potter's trial don't need to prove that the ex-police officer intended to kill Daunte Wright

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Prosecutors in Kim Potter's trial don't need to prove that the ex-police officer intended to kill Daunte Wright
Diamond Wright, sister of Daunte Wright, steps away from the casket of her brother during his wake, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Minneapolis.AP Photo/Julio Cortez
  • Kim Potter's charges mean prosecutors won't have to prove that she intended to kill Daunte Wright.
  • The former police officer faces first- and second-degree manslaughter charges in Wright's death.

Prosecutors in the trial of Kim Potter, a former police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, would not need to prove that she intended to kill Daunte Wright, a Black man, in order to convict her, based on her criminal charges.

Potter, who shot Wright during a traffic stop on April 11, faces charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter. Jury selection for her trial begins on Tuesday.

The police in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, have said that Potter and another officer pulled Wright over for driving with an expired license plate and determined that there was a warrant for his arrest for failing to appear in court for a previous charge.

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In body-camera footage released by the police, Potter can be heard shouting, "I'll tase ya. Taser! Taser! Taser!" shortly before shooting Wright in the chest. "Shit, I shot him," Potter can be heard saying.

Prosecutors initially charged Potter with second-degree manslaughter, saying in a criminal complaint that through "culpable negligence" she "created an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm" to Wright.

Prosecutors in Kim Potter's trial don't need to prove that the ex-police officer intended to kill Daunte Wright
Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter poses for a mugshot at the Hennepin County Jail on April 14, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Handout

The state added the charge of first-degree manslaughter on September 1, accusing Potter of causing Wright's death "while committing the misdemeanor offense of reckless handling or use of a firearm so as to endanger the safety of another with such force and violence that death or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable," an amended criminal complaint said.

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That means to convict her on either count, prosecutors would not have to prove that Potter intended to kill Wright, only that her actions led to his death.

Potter faces up to 15 years in prison for the charge of first-degree manslaughter and up to 10 years for the second-degree charge. She could have to pay up to $50,000 in fines if she's convicted of both charges.

Potter shot Wright as witness testimony was ending in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd's murder sparked police-brutality and racial-justice protests that lasted through summer 2020.

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