HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. — Former Brokklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter’s defense attorney blamed Daunte Wright for his own death during an opening statement on Wednesday. Potter is on trial for manslaughter stemming from the fatal shooting in April.
Defense lawyer Paul Engh is representing Potter, Law & Crime reported. It is yet another high-profile trial of a police officer who is accused of committing a crime during the performance of her duty.
“She said, ‘I’ll tase you! I’ll tase you!’ The language was direct; it was clear; it was unmistakable,” said Engh during his opening statement. “All Mr. Wright had to do was stop. He was told he was arrested on a warrant. He resisted; she said, ‘I’ll tase you!’ All he had to do was surrender.”
“But that wasn’t his plan,” Engh proffered. “He continued on with his struggle.”
The defense argument was that if Wright took off, he may have seriously harmed or killed additional officers who were present, according to Law & Crime.
“If she does nothing, Mr. Wright drives away and either substantially harms Sgt. [Michael] Johnson or, more likely, he kills him,” Engh declared.
“All he had to do is stop, and he’d be with us,” Engh said with emphasis. “But he goes. She can’t let him leave because he’s going to kill her partner!”
“She pulls the trigger believing that it was a Taser,” Engh bluntly stated.
Engh notes that Potter only fired a single round, despite her training to “double tap,” which means to fire twice.
“She realizes what has happened — much to her everlasting and unending regret,” Engh continued. “She made a mistake. This was an accident. She’s a human being. She had to do what she had to do to prevent a death to a fellow officer, too.”
“Over the course of 26 years, she never fired a gun,” Engh said. “She never fired one shot. She never fired a Taser. She never needed to. She always deescalated everything.”
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Engh also provided personal details about Potter in an effort to humanize her with the jury after law enforcement officers in general have been demonized over the past few years.
Potter and her husband have two children — one of whom is in the Marine Corps and the other of whom plays hockey, Law & Crime reported.
Engh said Potter’s life’s aspiration was to be a police officer and that she served on an “honor guard” for other officers who were killed in the line of duty.