Kim Potter's use of force during Daunte Wright traffic stop was 'excessive and inappropriate,' expert testifies

·3 min read
In this screen grab from video, Seth Stoughton, associate law professor at the University of South Carolina, testifies as Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presides over court Wednesday, Dec. 15, 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.
In this screen grab from video, Seth Stoughton, associate law professor at the University of South Carolina, testifies in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter.Associated Press
  • Kim Potter is on trial for the police shooting of Daunte Wright in April.

  • Potter has said that she meant to grab her Taser instead of her gun when she fatally shot Wright during a traffic stop.

  • An expert witness testified Wednesday that Potter's use of deadly force was "excessive and inappropriate."

An expert witness testified Wednesday that Kim Potter's use of deadly force was "excessive and inappropriate" when the Brooklyn Center police officer shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.

Potter, who has since resigned from the force, faces charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Wright in April. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges, and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, took the witness stand Wednesday. Stoughton has a background in law enforcement, is an expert on evaluating police uses of force, and has also co-authored a book titled, "Evaluating Police Uses of Force."

Stoughton told the jury that he had reviewed body camera footage of the shooting, and that he found Potter's use of deadly force against Wright to be "not appropriate."

Potter and her partner had pulled Wright over for driving with an expired license plate, and determined during the traffic stop that Wright had a warrant out for his arrest. Police body-camera footage played in court shows Potter shout, "Taser! Taser! Taser!" before shooting Wright in the chest while Wright tries to sit down in the driver's seat of his car.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked Stoughton if he had an opinion about whether or not Potter's use of deadly force was reasonable and justified. Stoughton said that he did not think Potter's conduct was appropriate.

"The evidence suggests that a reasonable officer in Officer Potter's position would not have believed that it was proportional to the threat at the time," Stoughton said. "In other words, the use of force was apparently excessive and inappropriate."

Potter has claimed that she intended to grab her Taser, which was holstered on the opposite side of her body, and not her gun when she shot Wright. Stoughton told the jury that the evidence he reviewed suggested to him that Potter intended to tase Wright during the traffic stop, not shoot him.

Frank then asked Stoughton if he had an opinion about Potter's decision to attempt to use a Taser. Stoughton replied that the use of a Taser "against the operator of a motor vehicle is inappropriate."

Stoughton testified that it's dangerous to tase someone in the driver's seat of a vehicle, because if the Taser is effective in incapacitating the driver, it could cause the vehicle to become an "unguided hazard." If the Taser is ineffective, Stoughton testified, it will only cause the driver pain and provide "an incentive for someone to flee."

Potter's defense strenuously objected to the state's lines of questioning with Stoughton. Defense attorney Earl Gray objected when Frank asked the use-of-force expert if the evidence suggested that Potter did not believe there was a threat of imminent bodily harm at the time she shot Wright.

Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu sustained the objection, because she said Stoughton did not have the foundation to testify about what Potter could have known or been aware of in that moment, and could only testify about how a reasonable officer would have acted at the time.

Read the original article on Insider