Legal experts say Kim Potter’s testimony backfired, allowing prosecutors to make her look negligent and secure a guilty verdict

Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter stands as the verdict is read at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Dec. 23, 2021.Associated Press

  • Kim Potter was convicted of manslaughter on Thursday for shooting Daunte Wright in April.

  • Potter, who later resigned from the police force, shot Wright during a traffic stop in Minnesota.

  • Legal experts told Insider that Potter’s decision to testify may have backfired.

A jury convicted Kim Potter on two manslaughter charges Thursday for killing Daunte Wright in April.

Legal experts told Insider that prosecutors used part of Potter’s testimony to make the former Minnesota police officer look negligent to jurors.

Potter, who has since resigned from the force, has said she meant to grab her Taser when she shot Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center. Body camera footage played for the jury showed Potter shooting Wright in the chest while shouting the warning, “Taser!” The footage then showed Potter shout, “Shit! I shot him,” before collapsing to the ground and saying, “I’m going to prison.”

Evidence the prosecution displayed and Potter’s testimony at trial could explain why her wrong-gun defense failed, according to legal experts.

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Potter made the decision to testify in her own manslaughter trial. Defense attorney Paul Engh said during jury selection that Potter decided to testify so she could tell the court “what she remembers happened.”

Dr. Ziv Cohen, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, told Insider it was strategic for Potter’s defense team to call her to the stand last before resting its case.

Cohen said Potter’s attorneys would have anticipated she would be emotional on the stand and would want to portray her as sympathetic to the jury.

Potter broke down in tears more than once on the stand and shouted “I’m sorry it happened” while under cross-examination by prosecutor Erin Eldridge.

‘This case is not about whether the defendant is sorry’

According to Cohen, Potter’s testimony was successful in making her look remorseful, but the prosecution gained ground when Eldridge hammered Potter with questions about what she did after the shooting.

Eldridge probed Potter about the moments after the shooting and asked her why she didn’t try to save Wright’s life or notify any other officers over the radio about the shooting, causing Potter to break down into tears.

Cohen said this portion of Potter’s testimony put her defense in a “tough position” because it “supports this argument of culpable negligence.” Potter was charged with one count of manslaughter by recklessness and one count of manslaughter by culpable negligence.

“It’s clever on the part of the prosecution that they have both of these charges so that if the jury feels uncomfortable convicting her of recklessness, they may still come back with a guilty verdict on the lesser charge of culpable negligence,” Cohen said.

Ayesha Bell Hardaway, an associate professor of law at Case Western Reserve University, said the prosecution landed points with the jury because it showed Potter “made a host of different errors on that particular day,” supporting the culpable negligence charge. That included showing evidence that Potter didn’t test her Taser as required on the morning of the day she shot Wright.

Prosecutors’ strong messaging that manslaughter is still a crime even if it’s an unintentional mistake was also beneficial in helping secure a conviction against Potter, criminal appeals attorney Matthew Barhoma told Insider.

“The one thing the prosecution did a good job in is is differentiating for the jury that even though she genuinely thinks that this was a mistake, even though she genuinely acknowledged that and is actually quite remorseful, that is still culpable. That’s still criminal,” Barhoma said.

Eldridge reminded the jury in closing arguments that mistakes can still be crimes and “this case is not about whether the defendant is sorry or whether she’s remorseful.”

The 12-person jury convicted Potter on both first -and second-degree manslaughter charges. She’s expected to be sentenced in April and faces up to 25 years in prison.

Read the original article on Insider