daunte wright kim potter trial
In this composite of two police body cam and one dash cam screen grabs from video, shows events of a traffic stop as Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presides over court Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter in the April 11, 2021, death of Daunte Wright, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
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By Stephen Groves and Kathleen Foody, AP

The suburban Minneapolis police officer on trial for fatally shooting Daunte Wright has said she mistakenly used her gun when she was trying to grab a Taser during a chaotic attempt to arrest the black motorist.

Policing experts say that regardless of Kim Potter’s intent, the fatal shooting was preceded by smaller mistakes or questionable decisions that added up to a dangerous situation as she was training a new officer. They also say the tragic outcome shows how important it is for veteran officers like her to have not just the savvy to train rookies, but the willingness to correct them instantly in risky situations — even if it means the trainee might lose face.

“The number one priority isn’t the long-term outcome of training an officer, it’s the short term of safety,” said Brian Higgins, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the former chief of police and director of public safety for Bergen County, New Jersey.

Knowing when to step in is a difficult decision sometimes, and I’m sure many times field training officers look back and go ‘Wow, I should have stepped in sooner.’

Potter, who is white, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 killing of Wright, who was pulled over in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center for having expired license plate tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. The jury began deliberating on Monday.

Potter was training a newer officer, Anthony Luckey, that day, and she testified that if she had been alone, she “most likely” wouldn’t have pulled over Wright, who was 20 years old. She said the air freshener was trivial and that many people were having difficulty renewing their tags at that stage of the pandemic.

But Potter said Luckey wanted to make the stop and she allowed it because it’s important for trainees to have many encounters with the public.

In this screen grab police body cam video is shown in court on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 at Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn., former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter reacts after a traffic stop in which Daunte Wright was shot on April 11, 2021. (Court TV, via AP, Pool)

Policing experts agree that it’s good for trainees to interact often with the public so that they learn the intangible skills the job requires. But using traffic violations as a way to check for more serious lawbreaking — criticized by some as pretext stops — has come under scrutiny, especially because some of these stops have led to the deaths of black people in recent years.

Carl Lafata, a professor of criminal justice at Minnesota State University in Mankato, said such stops can erode community trust if they’re used too aggressively. The Wright stop could have been a chance for Potter to teach Luckey “the art of the job,” he said.

“How do you do it in such a way that is safe, that is professional, that leaves that person with a good taste in their mouth?” he asked.

After Potter and Luckey discovered that Wright had an outstanding warrant on a weapons charge, body camera video recorded them making a plan to arrest Wright.

“I’m just going to get him out and then ’cuff him up. I mean he’s got a warrant, so I’m going to get him cuffed up,” Luckey said.

That should have been a point at which the officers’ level of caution went up, especially in the midst of field-training a new officer, Higgins said. Learning how to correctly handcuff and control someone is a basic, but critical process for police officers. If a trainee struggles to the point of risking someone’s safety, a field training officer should step in, he said.

“When an officer has made a decision to place someone under arrest, that’s when you enter in many cases the real dangerous situation,” he said. “And that’s why handcuffing and controlling the subject is critical, regardless of what the charge is.”

Ryan Getty, a professor at California State University at Sacramento who has specialized in developing police field training, said field training officers usually don’t allow trainees to make arrests on their own until the latter half of their training program. Although Luckey had gone through field training programs at other police departments, he was in the second of four phases with the Brooklyn Center police force.

“Usually the (field training officer) takes over if it’s a violent arrest or warrant,” Getty said.

Luckey, Potter and the third officer who responded to the scene, then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson, all approached Wright’s car, with Luckey taking the lead as Wright stood outside his car.

As Luckey struggled to handcuff him, Potter tried to assist, placing her hand on Wright’s arm.

That move made sense to the police training experts, who said training officers will usually try to nonverbally take charge of an arrest where police lose control.

“When it’s clearly going south, then the (field training officer) needs to step in and take charge,” Lafata said.

But then Wright made a break for his car and got behind the wheel.

Potter’s former chief, Tim Gannon, testified that he saw no error by Potter in procedure. But he faulted Luckey for not moving Wright away from his open car door.

“What training tells us to do is to move him to the rear of the car away from the open door or close the door behind him,” testified Gannon, who resigned two days after the shooting — the same day Potter quit.

In this screen grab from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter becomes emotional as she testifies in court, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Potter is charged with first and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old motorist, following a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. (Court TV, via AP, Pool)

Lafata and Higgins highlighted the same error. “You want to avoid any sort of opportunity for the person to get back into the car and flee,” said Lafata, who previously served as a state trooper in Michigan.

When prosecutors questioned Potter about why she didn’t step in at that point, she testified that she “wouldn’t do that to a rookie in front of a suspect.”

Gannon agreed in his testimony, calling it an action he would not have addressed until afterward.

Higgins said a general “good rule” is to let a trainee officer “work through his or her actions and afterward try to critique it.”

“But if there is any concern having to do with safety, you have a responsibility to train them and keep them safe,” he said. “If her concern was that his actions were unsafe because he did not position the individual correctly during the arrest, she has to interject herself.”

Field training officers “don’t want to be the bad guy or girl,” but ensuring someone is trained properly is critical in policing where the health and safety of everyone involved can be at stake, Higgins said.

Once Wright jumped into his car, the situation became chaotic, with Potter pulling her handgun while yelling, “I’ll tase you! I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!”

Getty questioned whether Potter was even qualified to be a field training officer because she made the fatal error of grabbing her handgun instead of a Taser.

“When it comes to panic time, if they don’t have that experience, they just go back to how they are trained,” he said, adding that field training officers “are supposed to be the best of the best officers.”

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  1. When I was a patrol officer I never used a taser. I either put my hands on somebody to control them or if worse came to worse I would knock them out with a leather slap that I carried in each back pocket. That I can think of not a single person was ever killed by an officer using a slap on them that I can think of dozens that died from a taser being used on them. Sometimes technology is simply not your friend. This is also a glaring example of why I believe most women should not be officers; they simply don’t have the size or weight to handle a large person that wants to resist arrest.

    • In complete agreement Officer Bill. And don’t forget her wailing after she “mistakenly” shot the young punk. And blubbering on the stand. Pathetic…

      • This is the elephant in the china store. By her actions, or lack of, and the wailing later, she certainly does not seems to be qualified to be a cop. She had 26 times one year experience and provided the department with the female quota. Affirmative action at work. The ironic part is that she is now paying the price, but it was her choosing.

        • quote: 26 times one year experience

          Few people outside of law enforcement are going to understand that. As a motorcyclist, I’ve heard and read the term, so I understand you. Other people in more dangerous professions might understand it.

          If I may roughly explain it – a person with one year’s experience 26 times has failed to build on top of past experience. Instead of a quarter century of wisdom and learning, you have a rookie who is repeating his first, or second, or maybe third year, over and over, and still making the same mistakes.

      • Kyle Rittenhouse was pathetic, too, by your reasoning.
        Killing someone, even if justified, is no walk in the park, psychologically speaking.

        • “Killing someone, even if justified, is no walk in the park, psychologically speaking”

          never understood that. if it’s justified, then why is one troubled?

        • 7. You being a fascist you probably don’t understand. But to those of us raised going to Sunday school and learning to respect others and their rights killing is a very difficult thing to do.

          Thank God for the therapists at the VFW.

        • rant7 – it is obvious that you have seldom, if ever, been in a situation where lives depended on you. People always second guess themselves, even when the community approves of their actions. In hindsight, you always find fault with your own actions. And, sometimes, maybe you really did know better, or have better options, or could have run away, or, just about anything.

          I’ll attribute our ignorance to youth.

        • Rokurota, I did fully read your comment and find it as I stated. Your analysis of Mr Rittenhouse is pathetic.

        • My comment: Kyle Rittenhouse was pathetic, too, by your reasoning. was a response to “former walter walker”‘s comment: “And blubbering on the stand. Pathetic…” Both Potter and Rittenhouse cried on the stand. Walker called Potter “pathetic,” yet I’m sure he wouldn’t say Kyle was pathetic. As I followed up with, crying because you killed someone is not a character flaw.

    • “most women should not be officers; they simply don’t have the size or weight to handle a large person that wants to resist arrest”

      absolutely true. and therefore sexist.

    • Whack someone over the head with a piece of lead wrapped in leather. I can’t imagine why that fell out of favor.

      • KJ
        A slap like I used only had about four oz of lead shot in it and you don’t whack someone over the head with it, you barely tap them on the mastoid on the back of their head and it’s like turning off a light and no one was ever killed by one. Humane tasers on the other hand have a body count of about 3700 people and counting. Let’s also not forget the tens of thousands of people that received debilitating injuries from a taser being used including one person that has been in the news lately as his court case drags on who was caught on fire by a taser and the officers let him lay on the ground and burn. Do you remember that old Jody about Napalm sticks to kids? Well a burning nylon tracksuit sticks to any flesh once a taser gets it burning.

        • Unfortunately of fortunately depending on your outlook the use of a sap is outlawed by most police departments today. When I was on the job, I carried one. Never had to use it though.

    • So many officers are afraid to go hands on these days. It used to be that LEOs were big tough guys who would not mind a little bit of contact. Now there are small guys who clearly have never been in a fist fight as well as 120 lb women.

      I don’t care how well trained you are. If a 180 lb man wants to take a 120 lb woman to the ground he will prevail.

      This leads to these cops using tasers and drawing firearms in order to gain compliance. Its not right.

      I have a very good friend who is a LEO. Prior to that he was a prison guard. He is VERY good at unarmed combat. He has never drawn his gun to gain compliance from a non-violent but non-compliant suspect. He’s a big fan of the knee strike to the thigh.

      His logic is that its extremely painful and instantly puts the guy on the ground. And its very unlikely to actually injure someone. But he’s not afraid to get up close and personal. He’s also 6 ft tall and about 240.

    • The type of situations leading up to this event happen every day hundreds of times… when an officer for whatever reason does not understand the concept that when a violator etc. realizes that they are likely to be taken into custody… they are going to do 1 of 3 things.. run, fight or submit to arrest. Many new officers and some old/cavalier officers do not take this into consideration nor have a solid plan for those 3 scenarios. Once the action starts it’s very easy for an officer to panic because they do not have a plan or enough experience. Panic and tunnel vision leads to these types of incidents. Potter should have never been a field training officer and probably should have never been hired. Everyone and not just the police should remember the concept of “I thought this might happen someday, and I know what to do” But if a person is not properly trained, and or has never thought about the “what if” ahead of time… anything can happen.

  2. Thank you for your opinion Associate Professor Getty…you remind me of the old adage: “Those that can – do…those that can’t – teach”.

    Gosh, your life is a daily adventure in your nice, safe classroom dealing with sleeping and bored students. I’m so proud that you have never made an error under pressure in your hectic, tumultuous daily routine of coffee, lecture, office hours and…gasp…grading papers.

    Pompous lickspittle.

  3. All anyone has to do to not turn a traffic stop into a death sentence is behave themselves.

    Apparently that’s racist.

  4. Why are we spending so much time finding fault in the officers? The deceased had a warrant for a violent crime and resisted arrest. Had he cooperated he would not have gotten shot. Enough said.

    • “we” aren’t. rather there are those that want do delegitimize each and every officer/department that they don’t personally control. they want every police apartment abolished and replaced with a national kgb that works for them, not us.

    • It’s really not disputed that she fucked up. She admits that it was her fault. The only question is whether it’s punishable in the criminal courts, or left to the civil courts. Personally I think that anyone who uses force against the cops is hoping for a swift response, and we shouldn’t reward the suicidal. But that’s just me.

      • I bet you’re the same douche posting moto ass sappy memes every time some cop bites off more than he can chew. If your life loses value by virtue of noncompliance that’s fine but shouldn’t the cops value plummet if they fail to execute their office honorably? Kinda like a form of societal self defense against the state?

        • I have no idea what you’re ranting about. The words you have strung together do not make sense. Do you think she didn’t fuck up?

  5. Kim Potter did her community a great service and shouldn’t be on trial.

    Daunte Wright should have never been out on the streets with his previous criminal record. He should have been imprisoned for life.

  6. ——————————
    But using traffic violations as a way to check for more serious lawbreaking — criticized by some as pretext stops — has come under scrutiny, especially because some of these stops have led to the deaths of black people in recent years.

    Read this and immediately thought, “this must be an Associated Press article.” Checked the top. Yep, bias confirmed.

    So why would these stops lead to death? Is it because such a high percentage of people who happen to have darker skin also have open warrants and choose to fight (risking death) rather than obey the laws? Why is that the fault of the police?

    I have really come to despise the Left with significant vigor. The Bible teaches that we should love our enemies, but they make it so freakin’ hard to do so with their belligerent ignorance.

    • “But using traffic violations as a way to check for more serious lawbreaking — criticized by some as pretext stops — has come under scrutiny, especially because some of these stops have led to the deaths of black people in recent years”

      it’s come under “scrutiny” because it’s good police work, and the ones behind all this don’t want good police work.

  7. the REAL solution is do what the officer says.

    now all the street thugs are gonna run each and every time, ’cause the cop won’t be allowed to do anything “dangerous”.

  8. “Policing experts agree that it’s good for trainees to interact often with the public so that they learn the intangible skills the job requires.” In plain English, sic the trainees on the public to get warrior experience. Tend to recall that this is a common practice of primitive and/or extremely cruel cultures. So much for joining law enforcement to help an old lady cross the street…

    • “So much for joining law enforcement to help an old lady cross the street…”

      police have to adapt to their clientele. citizens get police, hostiles get troops, animals get zookeepers.

      • The problem is that their clientele is in fact very diverse. Yes, there are criminals and thugs out there that understand only the language of force. But there are other clients, who may have committed an unforgivable crime of speeding, or failed to use their signal, or decided to not wear a seatbelt (mask, soon?). Those clients make better game, as they rarely shoot back. This is where the “training” often occurs, and rarely is the testosterone filtered in any way. It is this training that is greatly responsible for good, law abiding people preferring to stay on the sidelines in the current legal criminals vs illegal criminals war. A travesty, for sure.

    • Cops might help the old lady once in a while, but that’s not their job. Anyone who becomes a cop to give away stickers is going in for the wrong reasons. A cop is there to stop bad guys, using as much violence as necessary, while remaining as professional as possible under the circumstances. They ARE warriors, and have to be- who else is going to fight the mean drunk who’s beating up his wife?

  9. Convict her, suspend the sentence, then give her an award and pension for taking out the garbage.

  10. Never will forget when I was pulled over for tag light out and the , I’m assuming, rookie police officer muzzled my son twice trying to unload my 1911. I looked at the other police officer sitting in the car and mouthed “What the fck?”
    That scared me because the cop had no idea on the procedure to unload a 1911.
    I finally said ” Do you want me to unload it for you?” “No”, and then handed the gunm back to me ???
    I was a potential killer of cops until he couldn’t unload it.

  11. My biggest fear is being pulled over, and Im a white guy who carries 24 x7

    Todays cops scare the hell out of me.

  12. Let us not forget that an automobile can be a profoundly lethal weapon. A violent felon who regains control of a car is comparable to a violent felon who regains control of a loaded AR-15. There is an Oregon State Police Trooper in intensive care as we speak because a perp intentionally rammed the police car that he was sheltering behind.

    If Potter had not verbalized her mistake and became so distraught, it would have been a justified himicide.

  13. I’m not a fan of pretext stops, but on the other hand, if a law isn’t enforced it’s not a law but a suggestion or maybe a firm request. I wouldn’t have jumped through all the hoops like I did to get my last inspection sticker (dammed unclearable “not ready” codes) if I knew I wasn’t going to get pulled over without it. So why should I send money to the state to renew my registration if it’s not enforceable?

  14. IMO the only person to blame for Wright’s death is Wright

    If he NOT been a dirt bag, a person willing to fight to the death to flee and chicken shit not willing to take his lumps in court

    he’d be still breathing


  15. “Ryan Getty, a professor at California State University at Sacramento who has specialized in developing police field training, said field training officers usually don’t allow trainees to make arrests on their own until the latter half of their training program”

    -he wasn’t on his own

    “Usually the (field training officer) takes over if it’s a violent arrest or warrant,” Getty said.

    -nonsense. In some places everyone and his cousin has a warrant.

    They’re just trying to take a terrible screwup and somehow make it seem more malicious or negligent than it was.

  16. The fault lies in a system that puts people prone to flight, that is those with a fear of returning to jail, on the street and interacting with the general public and peace officers. Keep those people in places where they cannot flea and cannot interact with the public and their will be very little chance that they are shot, mistakenly or not.

    • …Keep those people in places where they cannot flea…

      Yes, its important that people don’t have fleas.


    • That’s getting harder to do. Up here in St. Paul, another of the attorneys in the prosecutor’s office just resigned in disgust after having so many cases dropped and/or sentences being diverted by the County Attorney. After putting in many hours on the cases, nothing comes of it , and they say eff it. I’m two counties away, but they all seem to be following a pattern, and Mr Schoolteacher Governor doesn’t say a peep.

  17. Long, long ago, when I flight instructed for fun (and not for profit), the FAA hammered on accident avoidance with the concept of “Accident Chains.” A simple concept: train the rookie pilot to recognize events and responses that serially chain together into a crisis. Typically, every crisis begins with a simple mistake or a failed response to a minor event. Thereafter the event-response chain becomes increasingly grave. At some point the linked event-response chain will bend metal. But before that point is reached, the chain can be broken, and unintentional terrain impact avoided. This article clearly lays out an event-response chain which led to a crisis that could have been averted. Sad.

    • The rookies fucked up by trying to cuff the guy right next to his open driver’s door. But… he probably would have tried to fight and run no matter his location, and based on his aggression versus that of the police officers, somebody probably would have gotten shot regardless.

    • .. and at sentencing , I think it would be fair for her and Daunte to each get six month sentences. We’ll even give that little thug credit for time served.

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