Kim Potter Could Still Face Murder Charge, Says Lawyer in 'Almost Identical' Case

Kim Potter, the police officer charged in Daunte Wright's death, could still face a murder charge, according to an attorney who prosecuted a strikingly similar case in Oklahoma.

Wright, a 20-year-old Black motorist, was fatally shot by Potter during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, earlier this month.

"Taser! Taser! Taser!" Potter said, according to body camera footage, before firing a single shot at Wright. "Holy s***, I just shot him!" Potter then said.

It was "almost identical" to the the 2015 shooting of Eric Harris by Robert Bates, a reserve Tulsa County sheriff's deputy, Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray told Newsweek.

"Both those situations are caught on video," Gray said. "Both have an individual who is trying to flee or pull away from police… in both situations, you have an officer yell 'Taser!' followed by a gun shot."

He added: "They're as identical as you could possibly get to situations that played out, to the month, six years apart."

Bates, who is white, had yelled "Taser" twice but he used a pistol when he shot Harris, an unarmed Black man who was fleeing a sting operation. "I shot him. I'm sorry," he is heard saying on body camera footage.

Bates said he confused his firearm for a stun gun. He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sent to prison. He was released after serving less than half of his four-year sentence.

Potter is facing the same charge, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Gray explained that the charge alleges "culpable negligence."

"Basically, a person similarly situated, i.e. another police officer, who is exercising ordinary caution or care wouldn't have made that mistake," he said.

"The prosecutors in the Daunte Wright case made the same decision that we did... alleging that she decided to use force, but wasn't appropriately cautious and caused the death of another human being."

However, one notable difference between the two cases is that 48-year-old Potter, who resigned after the shooting, was a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department and once led the police union, while Bates was a reserve deputy and in his 70s when he shot Harris.

"Essentially, a volunteer," Gray said. "By the time we got to the incident, he was a 73-year-old reserve deputy, who had only been a rank and file police officer for a year, 45 years prior."

Wright's family and advocates have called for more serious charges to be filed against Potter, some pointing to the 2017 case of Mohamed Noor, the Black former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a white woman, in the alley behind her home after she called 911 to report what she thought was an assault.

Noor was convicted of third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to over 12 years in prison.

Prosecutors would not be able to prove malice murder in Potter's case, Gray said, but there's "probably some room for discussion" on a lesser murder charge or a first-degree manslaughter charge.

Second-degree murder can be "intentional" or "unintentional" in Minnesota, while third-degree murder under Minnesota law requires proof that someone's conduct was "eminently dangerous to others," according to a judge's ruling last year.

"If somebody wanted to approach it, that she used her firearm recklessly or that she used a weapon recklessly, at least under Oklahoma law, that's certainly a possibility," Gray said. "That's something I think the prosecutors certainly could consider and maybe will still consider.

"At the end of the day, they're going to be a team of prosecutors standing in front of a jury of 12, asking them to find somebody guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

"[They] made the same choice that we did, which is given the evidence in front of them, they're pretty confident they can get a jury unanimously, beyond a reasonable doubt, to believe that she made a mistake that she shouldn't have, and face criminal responsibility for it."

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who is prosecuting the Potter case, has been contacted for comment.

An attorney for Potter has also been contacted for comment.

Daunte Wright memorial
A portrait of Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by a police officer, is seen in front of a fist at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 21, 2021. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images