Ex-officer charged for fatally shooting Black man

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Former Brooklyn Police Officer Kim Potter

Kim Potter poses for a booking photograph at Hennepin County Jail for fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, in Minneapolis, Minnesota April 14, 2021.

Daunte Wright with his 2-year-old son. "My family's blood is on their hands". About two dozen people were arrested on charges including curfew violations. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a US$20,000 fine.

Third-degree murder is defined as when a person "causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently unsafe to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life". That officer, Johannes Mehserle, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter - the California equivalent to Minnesota's second-degree manslaughter charge - and ultimately served 11 months in prison.

"I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately", she wrote in her resignation letter. "But they're not reaching for the most serious charge they could theoretically file".

A charge of second-degree murder can be issued when the suspect intentionally kills another person, but not premeditated.

Potter and police chief Tim Gannon both resigned on Tuesday, a day after the city council voted to sack the city manager, who controls the police force. Bodycam footage showed Mr Wright fleeing from officers after they told him he was being arrested for the warrant. Officers had stopped Wright's auto Sunday, and body camera footage showed Potter drawing her weapon as she shouted "Taser" and firing at Wright.

As Wright struggles with police, Potter shouts, "I'll Tase you!"

Following the incident, Gannon said that Potter had accidentally used her handgun instead of her Taser after Wright refused to go into custody.

Wright's death was described by Gannon, who has also resigned, as "an accidental death". Potter was released from jail after posting a $100,000 bond.

Intent isn't a necessary component of second-degree manslaughter in Minnesota.

"Both charges involve risky behavior, and awareness of risk, but the degree of risk must be higher for the murder charge - it must involve acts that are 'eminently unsafe, ' and done 'with a depraved mind without regard for human life, '" Frase told McClatchy.

In a police video of the shooting, Potter shouts: "Taser, Taser, Taser!" as she draws her weapon and opens fire on Wright in his vehicle after he had just pulled away from a fellow officer, then she is heard to say: "Holy shit, I just shot him".

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"If she thought she was firing her Taser, how can the state show beyond a reasonable doubt that she consciously took chances of death or great bodily harm?" he said.

"I can't accept that - a mistake, that doesn't even sound right", he added.

Third-degree murder charges are rare because the term "depraved mind" is ambiguous and hard to prove, Minnesota legal expert Kevin Burke told KTSP.

"This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force", they said. "Driving while Black continues to result in a death sentence".

Wright, a 26-year veteran, was training another officer at the time of the stop.

Mayor Elliot said he hoped the resignations would heal the community and lead to reconciliation.

The release from the Washington County Attorney's Office also identified the other officer involved in Sunday's stop as Anthony Luckey, who was being trained by Potter at the time.

A decision on charging Potter could come as early as Wednesday. After Floyd's death a year ago, protesters demonstrated several times at the home of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer now on trial in Floyd's death.

Chauvin was sacked less than 24 hours after Floyd's death and later charged with third-degree "depraved mind" murder, second-degree unintentional felony murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors are attempting to prove Chauvin's actions caused the death of Floyd.

Potter's attorney has not spoken publicly or returned messages from The Associated Press about the shooting of Wright and the criminal case.

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