So far, we have no evidence of Kim Potter bearing any malice towards Daunte Wright in particular or towards black people in general. So far, we have no revealed history of her reckless endangerment of civilians or suspects. We have a video in which we hear her say "Taser! Taser! Taser!" before firing what she apparently thought was a taser. Then, after she shoots the victim with her handgun, she exclaims, "Holy shit! I shot him." So far, that sounds like an unpremeditated, unintentional shooting.
In Minnesota, the charge of second degree manslaughter is based on a criminal statute, the relevant portion of which states that :
"A person who causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:
(1) by the person's culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another..."
The fatal shooting occurred in Brooklyn Center, which is located in Hennepin County. The Hennepin County Attorney's website states that :
"In order to charge second-degree manslaughter, the State must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person acted with 'culpable negligence' in creating an unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm. 'Culpable negligence' has been defined by Minnesota courts to mean acts that are grossly negligent combined with recklessness."
According to the State of Minnesota's proposed jury instructions regarding second degree manslaughter, in the case of Derek Chauvin now in progress:
"'Culpable negligence' is intentional conduct that the defendant may not have intended to be harmful, but that an ordinary and reasonably prudent person would recognize as involving a strong probability of injury to others. Culpable negligence is more than ordinary negligence or gross negligence. It is gross negligence coupled with recklessness. 'Recklessness' is a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death or great bodily harm to others. The defendant, however, need not have intended to cause harm."
If this case goes to trial, I question whether a jury will find the defendant guilty of "culpable negligence."
I hope that it won't go to trial, and I hope that any settlement will not involve jail time. But "payment of a fine of not more than $20,000" does seem appropriate, in addition to whatever payout Daunte Wright's family will receive from Minnesota government entities.
A life was lost, either accidentally or negligently, and restitution should be made. One life lost is enough. Another life should not be ruined due to what appears to be a tragic mistake.