The heaviest charge for the ex-cop who killed Daunte Wright

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A Minnesota judge has dismissed a defense request to dismiss the most serious charge against a former Minneapolis suburban policeman who said she intended to use a Taser instead of a handgun when she shot black motorist Daunte Wright.

Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter will stand trial in Hennepin County for first and second degree manslaughter in the death of Wright, who was shot after being arrested on April 11 for an offense to the highway code.

Potter, who is Caucasian, was first charged with second degree manslaughter, which necessitates a finding that she acted “culpably negligently” in Wright’s death.

Prosecutors later added a count of first degree manslaughter against Potter, alleging that she recklessly handled a firearm and endangered Wright’s safety when death or grievous bodily harm were reasonably predictable.

In allowing the charge of first degree manslaughter, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu said on Wednesday she only had to view the evidence in the most favorable light for the prosecution and to conclude to a “probable cause”, which means that it was more likely than not that a crime was committed.

She noted that the state would have a much heavier burden of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial, the Star Tribune reported.

For a conviction on the first degree indictment, a jury would have to find that Potter was aware of the risk of killing Wright and “made a conscious decision to act regardless” of the risk, Chu wrote.

Potter was training Officer Anthony Luckey when he arrested Wright for an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror and expired tabs, officials said. When Luckey performed a records check, he discovered that there was an active arrest warrant for a weapons violation against Wright.

According to the body camera video, Luckey attempted to stop Wright and handcuff him, but Wright sped off and got back into the car. Within seconds, Potter warned Wright that she was going to use her stun gun. Potter, however, drew his service weapon and fired a single shot.

Realizing his mistake, Potter grew hysterical and said that she had grabbed the wrong gun.

Regarding evidentiary issues, Chu ruled that Wright’s criminal record and allegations, including that he shot someone in the head, that he was a member of a street gang, that he assaulted and robbed a man in March and that he was under restraining orders, could only be admissible if Potter was aware of Wright’s past conduct.

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