Potter’s Attorneys File Notice Of Defenses to the Court
Kimberly Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer that fatally shot Daunte Wright after allegedly mistaking her gun for a taser, filed a notice of defenses on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Her attorneys, Paul Engh and Earl Gray have four potential options for Potter’s defenses: “Innocent Accident,” “Innocent Mistake,” “Her perceived use of a Taser was reasonable,” and “Lack of causation.” The attorneys plan to show the jury that the event was an accident and that a “police officer’s accidental shot is not a crime.” Each of these defenses relates to the narrative that the attorneys will use in court telling the jury that Potter made an honest mistake.
What is Innocent Accident & Innocent Mistake?
To win a conviction for some crimes, a prosecutor has to prove that there was some kind of intent to commit a criminal offense or intent to commit some act that led to the crime. Additionally, some crimes call for a prosecutor to prove that the defendant acted criminally negligent, meaning that the person behaved recklessly towards human life. When a person defends a criminal charge by showing an “Innocent Accident/Mistake,” they must show that there was no criminal intent, they acted with no criminal negligence, and they were engaged in lawful conduct at the time of the accident. If the defense is successful, it can serve to reduce the charge or even get a charge dismissed entirely. Accident works as a defense because it negates a showing that an accused acted with specific intent or negligence.
How Can Use of a Taser Reasonably Be a Defense?
The attorneys in this case plan to use the events that led up to the fatal shooting of Wright as justification for the action of Potter to reach for her taser. They will use those actions to portray that Potter was acting as a reasonable person when she reached for her taser, as Wright was fleeing the scene of the traffic stop. The defense has stated that the attempt to flee was a safety threat to the officers at the scene of the crime, including that one officer could have been “dragged to death.” Additionally, they will bring in a use-of-force expert to explain how Potter could have mistaken her gun for her taser. Using the expert, the defense will most likely use the reasonable use of a taser and innocent mistake defenses together to establish an idea of innocence to the jury.
What is Lack of Causation?
Causation is the “causal relationship between the defendant’s conduct and the result.” In other words, it is what connects the defendant and the crime that has occurred. The defense will try to prove that Potter didn’t want to kill Wright because she mistook her gun for a taser, and that Potter lacked causation because she never expected to use her gun. This argument would break the legal causation of the crime.
The defense plans to give these defenses in the case of Potter on the date of Nov. 30. The case will be live-streamed due to Covid-19 concerns and public demands for transparency.
The Legal Rights Center, Inc. (LRC) seeks outstanding candidates to join our team as our Development & Communications Associate. This is a new position that will support LRC’s fundraising and communications efforts, with a focus on advancing our community mission and advocacy goals.
See the full positing for more information on the role.
To apply, please email a letter explaining your interest in the position and your resume to email@example.com. Finalists will be asked to provide professional references. For questions or more information, please call Sarah Davis at 612-677-2124.
LRC staff include attorneys and advocates from a range of background and lived experiences.
The Legal Rights Center
1611 Park Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
P: 612-337-0030 F: 612-337-0797
The Legal Rights Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit financially supported by: the State of Minnesota, foundations, local law firms, corporations and individuals. Clients are never charged for our services.