Defense lawyers for the Brooklyn Center police officer charged in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright sought Wednesday to dismiss a recently added first-degree manslaughter charge against her.
Lawyers Paul Engh and Earl Gray filed the motion with Hennepin County District Judge Regina Chu on behalf of Kimberly Potter, saying the video from body-worn cameras indicates she believed she was using a Taser, not a Glock 9-millimeter handgun, on Wright in a lawful traffic stop made dangerous by his response.
"There is no suggestion in the complaint that Officer Potter consciously believed that the object in her hand was a gun, or that she knew she was about to shoot a bullet," the motion said.
First-degree manslaughter prohibits causing the death of another while committing a misdemeanor with reasonably foreseeable force, the motion for dismissal said. In this case, there is no evidence Potter believed she was handling a gun, the lawyers said.
While Wright was under arrest and trying to slip away from the officers, Potter said, "I'll tase ya," the motion said. Then she yelled, "Taser, Taser, Taser" as she and the arresting officer stepped back from Wright so as not to be hit themselves.
Immediately after firing at Wright, Potter said, "I grabbed the wrong [expletive] gun" and "I shot him." Her remorse was evident, the lawyers wrote.
The defense lawyers said the question for the court is whether Potter acted recklessly, and created a substantial risk she was aware of.
"The last thing Officer Potter wanted to do was shoot Mr. Wright. That wasn't her conscious intention. She sought a lesser harm, as she was also trained to do," the motion said.
The lawyers wrote that Wright was seeking to flee by driving away in a vehicle, possibly dragging two officers along with him, and committing a violent felony.
"Mr. Wright created a scene frenetic and dangerous," the motion said. "Officer Potter had [to] act."
Her fatal encounter with Wright occurred in the final days of the trial against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd.
Brooklyn Center police stopped Wright, 20, on April 11 while he was driving a vehicle with expired plates. The criminal complaint said Wright initially complied but then tried to escape and get back behind the wheel of the car when told he was under arrest for a warrant.
Attorney General Keith Ellison's office, which took over the case from Washington County Attorney Pete Orput last summer, added the manslaughter charge earlier this month. Potter also faces a second-degree manslaughter charge.
After Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter, protesters went to Orput's home and called for a third-degree murder charge against Potter. That now seems highly unlikely given the state Supreme Court's decision to dismiss the third-degree murder conviction against former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor.
A spokesman said Ellison would respond in a formal court filing.
Potter's trial is expected to start Nov. 30.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747