Kim Potter Found Guilty of Manslaughter for Daunte Wright’s Death

Kim Potter Found Guilty of Manslaughter for Daunte Wright’s Death

The Killing of Daunte Wright
Kim Potter Found Guilty of Manslaughter for Daunte Wright’s Death
The prosecution and defense had agreed that the police shooting was a mistake and that Ms. Potter had meant to draw her Taser when she fatally shot Mr. Wright during a traffic stop.
Dec. 23, 2021Updated 7:49 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:33 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:33 p.m. ET
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Kimberly Potter and her lawyers reacting after the verdict was read on Thursday.Credit...Court TV, via Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — The former police officer who said she mistook her gun for her Taser when she fatally shot a man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb was convicted of two counts of manslaughter on Thursday, a rare guilty verdict for a police officer that is likely to send her to prison for years.
The jury deliberated across four days before agreeing on guilty verdicts for Kimberly Potter, a 49-year-old white woman who testified that she had never fired her gun in her 26 years on the police force in Brooklyn Center, Minn., until she shot a single bullet into the chest of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who had been driving to a carwash in April.
As the verdict was read, Ms. Potter remained stoic, looking briefly downward and then toward the jurors but never crying, as she had when she testified. Judge Regina Chu ordered that Ms. Potter be immediately sent to prison, and deputies led her out of the courtroom in handcuffs as one of her relatives shouted, “Love you, Kim!”
It is unusual for police officers to be convicted in accidental shootings, and jurors heard testimony from several current and former police officers — including two put on the stand by prosecutors — who said that Ms. Potter had been justified in trying to use her Taser, or even firing her gun.
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Family and Prosecution React to Verdict in Kimberly Potter Trial
Daunte Wright’s mother and the attorney general of Minnesota gave remarks on the jury’s decision to convict Ms. Potter on two counts of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Mr. Wright.
“The moment that we heard guilty on the manslaughter one, emotions, every single emotion that you could imagine just running through your body at that moment. I kind of let out a yelp because it was built up in the anticipation of what was to come while we were waiting for the last few days. And now we’ve been able to process it. We want to thank the entire prosecution team. We want to thank community support, everybody who’s been out there that has supported us in this long fight for accountability.” “With the jury finding Kimberly Potter guilty today of manslaughter in the first degree, and manslaughter in the second degree in connection with Daunte’s death, we have a degree of accountability for Daunte’s death. Accountability is not justice, justice is restoration. Justice would be restoring Daunte to life and making the Wright family whole again. Justice is beyond the reach that we have in this life for Daunte. My thoughts are also with Ms. Potter today. She has gone from being an esteemed member of the community and honored member of a noble profession to being convicted of a serious crime. I don’t wish that on anyone, but it would be — but it was our responsibility as the prosecution, as ministers of justice to pursue justice wherever it led, and the jury found the facts.”
Daunte Wright’s mother and the attorney general of Minnesota gave remarks on the jury’s decision to convict Ms. Potter on two counts of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Mr. Wright.CreditCredit...Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times
Mr. Wright had been trying to flee from Ms. Potter and two other officers who were attempting to arrest him on a warrant. At trial, prosecutors conceded that the shooting was an accident, but they argued that Ms. Potter had been so reckless that she should be imprisoned.
Judge Chu will sentence Ms. Potter, who resigned two days after the shooting, at a hearing scheduled for February. The standard sentence for the more serious charge, first-degree manslaughter, is a little more than seven years in prison, and the maximum penalty is 15 years.
Mr. Wright’s parents let out cries in the courtroom as the guilty verdicts were read and later joined several dozen of Mr. Wright’s supporters who celebrated outside of the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis.
“Today, Minnesota has shown that police officers are not going to continue to pull their gun instead of their Taser,” Mr. Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, said to the supporters. “And we made this happen, you made this happen, Daunte Wright made this happen.”
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Mr. Wright with his son, Daunte Jr., at his first birthday party.Credit...Ben Crump Law
Body camera videos from the traffic stop on April 11 show Mr. Wright twisting out of the grip of another officer and getting back into the driver’s seat of his car to avoid being handcuffed. A judge had issued a warrant for Mr. Wright’s arrest that month after he missed a court date on charges that he had illegally possessed a gun and run from the police.
In the videos, Ms. Potter threatens to stun Mr. Wright with her Taser, but she actually draws her department-issued Glock. After yelling “Taser! Taser! Taser!” she pulls the trigger. Then, realizing she shot him instead, Ms. Potter shouts that she had grabbed the wrong weapon, and collapses and sobs as she says she is going to prison.
The shooting took place during the trial of Derek Chauvin , the white former Minneapolis police officer who was ultimately convicted of murdering George Floyd, a Black man whose death led to a huge protest movement and heightened scrutiny of police killings. The Potter trial was seen by some as a test of whether juries were more likely to convict officers of crimes after the outcry over Mr. Floyd’s death.
At a news conference after the verdict, Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general whose office prosecuted the case, said he had long believed it would be difficult to win a conviction. Mr. Ellison said Ms. Potter had gone from being an “honored member of a noble profession to being convicted of a serious crime.”
“I don’t wish that on anyone,” he said.
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Mr. Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, visited a memorial in April at the location where her son was fatally shot.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
Richard Frase, an emeritus law professor at the University of Minnesota, said the fact that Ms. Potter was charged and convicted was a sign that prosecutors and jurors were increasingly willing to punish police officers for killing people.
“Prosecutors have become more confident that they actually have a shot at getting a conviction,” Mr. Frase said. “The state did a pretty effective job of making its case.”
In convicting Ms. Potter, jurors rejected the defense that she had been justified in firing her gun and found that she had knowingly taken a risk of seriously harming Mr. Wright, even if she mistakenly thought she was firing her Taser.
The jurors’ verdict forms indicated that much of their deliberations, which began on Monday and lasted 27 hours, were spent on the first-degree manslaughter charge. That charge required jurors to find that Ms. Potter had killed Mr. Wright by recklessly handling her gun, defined as committing a “conscious or intentional act” with her gun that creates a substantial risk.
All 12 jurors had agreed to find Ms. Potter guilty of second-degree manslaughter by Tuesday morning, and they asked Judge Chu later that day what to do if they “cannot reach consensus,” suggesting that they were in conflict on the more serious charge.
The judge urged them to keep discussing the case, and they did so for 14 more hours before finding Ms. Potter guilty late on Thursday morning.
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Judge Regina Chu ordered that Ms. Potter be immediately sent to prison. Deputies led her out of the courtroom in handcuffs as one of her relatives shouted, “Love you, Kim!”Credit...Court TV, via Associated Press
Daunte Demetrius Wright had played basketball in high school and later worked at Taco Bell and then a shoe store with his father. His son, Daunte Jr., was 1 when Mr. Wright was killed, and friends and relatives said becoming a father had made him want to improve his life. His mother testified that he had recently enrolled in a vocational school and was considering pursuing carpentry.
When Ms. Potter took the stand as the last of 33 witnesses in the trial, she sobbed while describing the moments leading up to Mr. Wright’s death and said she was “so sorry” it had happened.
She had been riding in a police car with Officer Anthony Luckey, a rookie officer she was training, when Officer Luckey began following Mr. Wright’s white Buick because he saw the car using the wrong turn signal. Officer Luckey noticed that the car had an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, which is against the law in many states , and that it also had an expired registration sticker.
When Mr. Wright’s car was photographed by criminal investigators, a tree-shaped air freshener was on the driver’s seat, covered in his blood.
Ms. Potter testified that in the moments before the shooting, she had seen the third officer at the scene, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, leaning into the car and that he had “a look of fear on his face.” Her lawyers argued that the shooting was justified because Sergeant Johnson could have been dragged to his death if Mr. Wright drove away.
Prosecutors argued that Ms. Potter had been wrong to try to use her Taser on Mr. Wright because her department’s policies warned against using a Taser on someone driving a car. They also said only a small part of Sergeant Johnson’s body had been in the car when Ms. Potter fired.
“Accidents can still be crimes,” a prosecutor, Erin Eldridge, told the jury during closing arguments. She called the killing “a colossal screw up” and “a blunder of epic proportions.”
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The Taser and pistol Ms. Potter carried on April 11, as they were shown in court last week.Credit...via Court TV
In the defense’s closing argument, Earl Gray, a lawyer for Ms. Potter, said Mr. Wright had “caused his own death” by trying to flee from the police. He also said Ms. Potter should not be imprisoned for an accident.
“This lady here made a mistake, and, my gosh, a mistake is not a crime,” Mr. Gray said.
Tim Gannon, the previous chief of the Brooklyn Center police, testified that Ms. Potter had not broken his department’s rules.
Mr. Gannon, who testified for the defense and said he had been forced to resign because he refused to fire Ms. Potter for the shooting, said that when he viewed videos of the encounter, he saw “no violation — of policy, procedure or law.”
For a week after the shooting, thousands of people gathered outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, grilling food and providing groceries to nearby residents by day and throwing water bottles and other objects at a line of police officers come nightfall. The police made hundreds of arrests and fired an array of projectiles, including foam bullets, canisters of smoke and pepper spray that made it difficult to breathe.
During the trial, Ms. Potter’s husband, a retired police officer, sat in the courtroom for much of the testimony, as did Mr. Wright’s mother, Ms. Bryant, who often cried quietly in court as videos of her son’s death were shown to jurors.
On the first day of the trial, Ms. Bryant testified that her son had called her when the police had pulled him over , but that the line had gone dead seconds before he began to struggle with officers. Ms. Bryant said she raced to the scene, where she saw a white sheet that covered everything except for her son’s familiar tennis shoes.
Dec. 23, 2021, 3:45 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 3:45 p.m. ET
Here are the sentences Kimberly Potter may face for her manslaughter convictions.
After 27 hours of deliberations, a jury convicted Kimberly Potter , a former police officer, of two counts of manslaughter for fatally shooting Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on April 11.
Ms Potter will be sentenced at a hearing in February. The more serious of the two counts, first-degree manslaughter, is punishable by as much as 15 years in prison, though the standard sentence is about half that.
Here are the specifics of the two counts.
COUNT I
First-degree manslaughter
One of the ways Minnesota law defines first-degree manslaughter is causing someone’s death while committing or attempting to commit a lesser crime — a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor — in a way that a reasonable person could foresee would cause death or great bodily harm.
Specifically, prosecutors accused Ms. Potter of causing Mr. Wright’s death through the reckless handling or use of a firearm .
First-degree manslaughter is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $30,000. The standard prison sentence for someone without a prior criminal record, like Ms. Potter, would be a little more than seven years.
COUNT II
Second-degree manslaughter
One of the ways Minnesota law defines second-degree manslaughter is causing someone’s death through culpable negligence, by creating an unreasonable risk and consciously taking chances of causing death or great bodily harm.
Prosecutors persuaded the jury that Ms. Potter had done so in the use of her firearm.
Second-degree manslaughter is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000. The standard sentence for a person without any previous convictions would be about four years. But because Ms. Potter was also convicted of a more serious charge, first-degree manslaughter, in connection with the same death, this count is unlikely to affect the total length of her sentence.
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Dec. 23, 2021, 3:35 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 3:35 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, says in a news conference that she was feeling “every single emotion that you could imagine” when she heard the guilty verdict.
Dec. 23, 2021, 3:26 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 3:26 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general whose office led the successful prosecution of Kimberly Potter, at a post-verdict news conference with Daunte Wright’s parents: “At 20, Daunte could’ve done anything.”
Dec. 23, 2021, 3:32 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 3:32 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
Ellison says his thoughts are also with Potter, who he said “has gone from being an esteemed member of the community and honored member of a noble profession to being convicted of a serious crime.” He added: “I don’t wish that on anyone, but it was our responsibility as the prosecution, as ministers of justice, to pursue justice wherever it led, and the jury found the facts.”
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:51 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:51 p.m. ET
Incidents in which police officers mistakenly fired their guns when they meant to draw their Tasers have not been common, but there have been several in recent years.
In 2018, a rookie Kansas police officer mistakenly shot a man who was fighting with a fellow officer. In 2019, a police officer in Pennsylvania shouted “ Taser !” before shooting an unarmed man in the torso. And in one of the most publicized cases, a white police officer with the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency said he had meant to fire his Taser when he fatally shot Oscar Grant III, who was Black, as Mr. Grant was lying facedown on the train platform on New Year’s Day in 2009.
In April, The New York Times reported that of 15 cases of so-called weapon confusion in the last two decades, a third of the officers were indicted, and three officers were found guilty, including the only two cases in which people were killed.
In Kimberly Potter’s trial, one of the prosecution’s expert witnesses testified that he was aware of fewer than 20 instances of what is called “weapons confusion” between a Taser and a gun since 2001.
The witness, Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who studies the use of force by police officers, said many police forces now train officers on how to avoid weapons confusion, which he called a “very well-known” risk.
To reduce the risk, Mr. Stoughton said, many law enforcement agencies advise officers to keep their Taser on the nondominant side of their police belt, as Ms. Potter’s was. And the companies that make stun guns have tried to make them appear more distinct from guns. Many Tasers are at least partially bright yellow, as Ms. Potter’s was.
In Ms. Potter’s case, prosecutors did not dispute that she drew her gun by mistake. They made a case to jurors that she acted so recklessly — given her experience and training — that she should be found guilty of manslaughter. The jury apparently agreed.
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Dec. 23, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
Inside the courtroom, one of Kimberly Potter’s relatives shouts, “Love you Kim!” and she responds, “Love you,” from behind her mask as she is handcuffed. Deputies then lead her out of the courtroom.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Kimberly Potter is scheduled to be sentenced at a hearing on Feb. 18.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:48 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:48 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of a little over seven years for first-degree manslaughter, the more serious of the two counts on which Potter was found guilty. She was also convicted of second-degree manslaughter, but that is unlikely to affect her sentence, because it was for the same act.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:40 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:40 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
The judge said she would order that Kimberly Potter immediately be taken to jail, where she would be held without bail until a sentencing hearing. Potter’s lawyers are asking for the judge to instead set bail, saying that Potter feels “overwhelming” remorse. Her lead lawyer, Paul Engh, adds: “It is the Christmas holiday season. She is a devoted Catholic, no less. There is no point to incarcerate her.”
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Credit...Court TV, via Associated Press
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:45 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:45 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
The judge rules that Kimberly Potter will be immediately taken into custody without bail. She will remain in jail until she is sentenced, probably in a few weeks. “I cannot treat this case any differently than any other case,” the judge says.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:36 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:36 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
Kimberly Potter looked down as the verdict was read, then held her head up. She did not appear to cry. Two of her lawyers held her shoulders. She looked briefly at the jurors whose decision will probably send her to prison for years.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:33 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:33 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
On the first and more serious count, first-degree manslaughter, for killing Daunte Wright, the jury finds Kimberly Potter guilty.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:33 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:33 p.m. ET
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs
Reporting from Minneapolis
On the second count, second-degree manslaughter, for killing Daunte Wright, the jury finds Kimberly Potter guilty.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ET
Timothy Arango
This guilty verdict is likely to surprise many experts who felt a conviction would be tough because the evidence was much more in line with the typical police killing case, in which jurors have historically sided with officers, than the case against Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. Here — unlike in the Chauvin case — the defense argued that had Potter made a split-second decision in a dangerous situation.
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:24 p.m. ET
Dec. 23, 2021, 2:24 p.m. ET
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Daunte Wright with his son.Credit...Ben Crump Law
Daunte Wright has been remembered by friends as upbeat and gregarious, someone who loved to play basketball and was a supportive father to his son, Daunte Jr., who was a year old when Mr. Wright, 20, was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop.
“He always said he couldn’t wait to make his son proud,” Katie Bryant, Mr. Wright’s mother, said at his funeral in April . “Junior was the joy of his life, and he lived for him every single day, and now he’s not going to be able to see him.”
Mr. Wright died on April 11 during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, when a police officer, Kimberly Potter , fired a single shot from her handgun, apparently mistaking it for her Taser.
Mr. Wright had been working at a Taco Bell and at a Famous Footwear shoe store shortly before he died, and was considering a career in carpentry, his mother testified in court. She said he had enrolled in the Summit Academy, a vocational school, about two months before he was killed. He had six siblings and was living at his parents’ home with his two younger sisters.
A little over a month after his death, a lawsuit against Mr. Wright’s family raised questions about whether Mr. Wright was involved in a violent dispute in May 2019.
The woman who filed the lawsuit claimed that Mr. Wright had shot her son — a former friend of Mr. Wright’s — in the head in Minneapolis, leaving the man severely disabled, possibly because the man had “beat up” Mr. Wright earlier that month. The lawsuit offers no direct evidence tying Mr. Wright to the shooting, which remains unsolved.
Katie Wright has called the claims in the lawsuit hurtful. “To run with allegations like that is pretty bad, whether they are true or not true,” she told The Star Tribune .
The judge overseeing the trial of Ms. Potter ruled that any “bad acts” committed by Mr. Wright could only be brought up during the trial if it was shown that Ms. Potter knew about the conduct at the time of the traffic stop, so the allegations in the lawsuit were not raised.
People who knew Mr. Wright have acknowledged that he made mistakes, but the said he was trying to improve his life for the sake of his son.
A friend, Emajay Driver, said that Mr. Wright had “loved to make people laugh.” As a freshman in high school, Mr. Wright had been voted a class clown. “There was never a dull moment,” Mr. Driver said.
Delivering a eulogy at Mr. Wright’s funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he was told that Minneapolis had not seen a funeral procession so large since Prince, the musician who was born and raised in Minneapolis, died in 2016.
“You thought he was just some kid with an air freshener,” Mr. Sharpton said, referring to a reason the police cited for pulling him over, an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. Mr. Sharpton added: “He was a prince, and all of Minneapolis has stopped today to honor the prince of Brooklyn Center.”
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Officer Kim Potter testifying during her trial on Friday.Credit...Court TV, via Associated Press
A Minnesota jury convicted Kimberly Potter, a former police officer, on two felony manslaughter charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April.
Prosecutors and Ms. Potter’s lawyers agreed that the shooting was a mistake and that Ms. Potter meant to stun Mr. Wright with her Taser, not shoot him. But they disagreed on how culpable she was in making that mistake.
Ms. Potter, 49, was a police officer with the Brooklyn Center Police Department in the suburbs of Minneapolis for 26 years, until she resigned two days after shooting Mr. Wright. She became a leader in the police union, and she was often assigned to give field training to new officers.
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Kimberly PotterCredit...Hennepin County Sheriff, via Associated Press
In questioning witnesses, prosecutors suggested that Ms. Potter was not justified in firing a Taser — let alone her gun — at Mr. Wright because he was in the driver’s seat of a car. Brooklyn Center Police Department policy advises against using a Taser on someone who is operating a car. Ms. Potter’s lawyers argued that Mr. Wright was not operating the car when the shooting took place during a traffic stop, though they also argued that he posed a risk because he was attempting to drive away.
In video of the shooting, a distraught Ms. Potter swears after pulling the trigger on her handgun, and she tells her fellow officers that she grabbed the wrong weapon. Moments later, the video shows, she collapses to the ground, where she sobs and says she is going to go to prison.
“She realizes what has happened, much to her everlasting and unending regret,” Mr. Engh said at the beginning of the trial. “She made a mistake. This was an accident. She’s a human being.”
Ms. Potter’s lawyers argued that she had been justified in trying to stun Mr. Wright and in shooting him, because another officer, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, was leaning into the passenger-side window of Mr. Wright’s car. If Ms. Potter had done nothing, her lawyers asserted, Sergeant Johnson could have been dragged by the car and died.
Ms. Potter’s husband, Jeff, was a police officer in a different Minneapolis suburb until he retired in 2017. They have two adult children.
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Criminal charges against police officers who kill remain very rare, and convictions more so.
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A protester near the Police Department in Brooklyn Center, Minn., in April.Credit...Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
When George Floyd was murdered on a street corner in Minneapolis last year, setting off racial justice protests across the country on a scale not seen in decades, many activists who had fought for years against police brutality were hopeful that the upheaval would prove to be a turning point, moving the country toward more accountability for the police when they kill on the job.
And when Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer who kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was convicted on two counts of murder in April, the verdicts were hailed as a signal that the criminal justice system was shifting — and that juries, especially, were more willing to hold officers to account.
Yet more than a year and a half after Mr. Floyd was murdered, with another police brutality trial underway in Minnesota — for the killing earlier this year of Daunte Wright — criminal charges against police officers, much less convictions, remain exceedingly rare.
According to data kept by a research team led by Philip M. Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University, 21 officers have been charged this year with murder or manslaughter in connection with an on-duty shooting.
While that figure is an increase from 2020, when 16 officers were charged, and is the highest annual total since Mr. Stinson began tracking the data in 2005, it remains small next to the roughly 1,100 people a year who are killed by the police in America.
“It seems to be business as usual,” Mr. Stinson said. “It’s very, very difficult to make systemic change.”
Despite the protests of 2020 and the sustained public attention on police violence, the overall number of killings has barely budged. So far this year, 960 people have been killed by the police, according to Mapping Police Violence, a nonprofit group that keeps track of police killings. That figure is roughly in line with data the group began collecting in 2013.
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The jury deliberated for 27 hours before reaching a decision.
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Erin Eldridge, an assistant attorney general for Minnesota, delivered the prosecution’s closing arguments on Monday.Credit...Court TV, via Associated Press
A decision has been reached in the trial of Kim Potter, the former police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April after seeming to mistake her gun for her Taser, and will be announced after 1:30 p.m. Central time.
The 12-member jury will be called upon to deliver its decision once spectators, court officials and the prosecution and defense have assembled in the courtroom on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. The court has said only that “a trial outcome has been reached” and will be read shortly.
The jury began deliberations just before 1 p.m. Central time on Monday, after the two sides made their closing arguments and the judge instructed the jury on the law and how to proceed. They deliberated for 27 hours over four days before notifying the judge that they had reached a decision.
The jurors had two counts to consider, one of first-degree manslaughter and one of second-degree manslaughter. They can convict Ms. Potter on either or both of those counts, or convict her of a lesser “included offense” that they found to be proven during the trial, or they can acquit her entirely.
If Ms. Potter is convicted, she will be sentenced by the judge in a later hearing. The jury has no role in sentencing decisions.
Lawyers for Ms. Potter, who was a police officer for 26 years in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, until she resigned just after the shooting, argued that her actions during the traffic stop were justified and that Mr. Wright caused his own death by trying to evade being arrested by other officers at the scene. They said Ms. Potter should not be imprisoned for making a mistake about which weapon she was holding in a fraught and chaotic moment.
Prosecutors, however, argued that Ms. Potter’s handling of her firearm was so reckless, and her use of force so unreasonable, that the shooting was criminal even if accidental. They said that Ms. Potter should have known what she was doing when she shot Mr. Wright in the chest at close range.
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