I haven’t been following the trial of Kim Potter, the Minneapolis Police Officer who was recently convicted of the manslaughter of Daunte Wright, a Black motorist. I try not to pay attention to these court cases because a lot of the times the results of the trials are not want you really want. It erodes the idea of democracy and that everyone gets treated the same under the law. This case is no different. Potter, a veteran officer without any other disciplinary actions to speak of or that was reported, was convicted of first degree manslaughter. This is not to say that the family of Daunte Wright doesn’t deserve justice, but the charges against Potter doesn’t fit how the law reads. To be guilty of first degree manslaughter, it requires intent to harm but not necessarily an intent to kill, or that the action that preceded it was unlawful, i.e. a guy approaches someone at a bar and punches him because of an off color remark where the intent was to create harm but not to kill. Potter was doing her lawful duty when the incident occurred therefore negating any possibility of it ever being first degree manslaughter. She was there, doing her job. The second degree charge required prosecutors to prove Potter caused his death “by her culpable negligence,” meaning that Potter “caused an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm” to Wright, but Wright was refusing to follow the officer’s orders creating the necessity to use an intermediate weapon. Here’s the tricky part, the prosecution admitted that Potter actually thought she had her taser and not her service weapon when she shot. That statement by the prosecution negates the officer creating great bodily harm or consciously trying to cause anyone’s death because Taser’s are seen as non lethal intermediate weapons, by the same people that prosecuted Potter. I’m not saying Potter isn’t guilty of something, just not what they charged her with.
Potter was railroaded, not by the prosecutors or Daunte Wright’s family, but by every officer that should have been charged for manslaughter and got away with it. She is a victim (don’t know if that’s the right word) of circumstances that are out of her control. In Florida, back in the 1950’s, a Sheriff took three black inmates from the jail to the court. He stopped in a secluded area and put three bullets in each one before they reached the court room for trial. That was the treatment. No one questioned him about it and he merely stated that the still handcuffed dead black youths tried to escape. You don’t even have to go back that far. Recently, the Supreme Court just found that a black inmate that died in a jail after a tussle with the police, inside the cell, was justifiable because somehow the definitions, literally just the words from a previous case, didn’t line up to find a conviction of the officers.
With all the protests, bad publicity, screams for justice because of what I believe to be bad decisions or rulings, in my opinion (which doesn’t mean much), all, by the way, seemed right to me and I agree with (the protests and bad publicity not the rulings, wanted to make that clear), except for the looting ( I don’t agree with looting), Potter was fighting a battle she had no way of winning even though she should have, easily. This a rebound effect, where you pull on something and then you let go, it snaps to the other side with ferocity, until you can come to a center or mutual understanding of how things should work. I see a lot of reporting on what newspapers call bad policing but when I read the circumstances, it seems like that the officer was right in his decision. The fight is on against qualified immunity, but you have to be careful that when presenting your opposition, that the case does, in fact, show that qualified immunity is the reason for the non conviction and not the circumstances.
I don’t blame Wright for his fear of the police, given the previous example about how you could die in a jail cell, where you are ultimately in someone else’s care, or for him running, but it was still wrong according to the law. The courts are ultimately responsible. They have to see the facts for what they are and not impose a requirement for accountability that is so absurd that it creates fear in the public of predators with badges that run wild doing what they want when they want. Accountability is a cornerstone of a civil society. For this experiment, democracy, to work, you have to make sure that everyone follows the rules, not just a certain segment of the population.
My blarticle states that both sides are right and that both sides are wrong. Until someone with good common sense comes and resolves this, and it has to come from the Supreme Court, this will be what happens in this country, bad people staying out of prison running everything and good people locked up. This case should have been resolved by a payout to the Wright family and the retirement of Officer Potter.
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