Kim Potter, a former Minnesota officer, stated during Tuesday’s trial that she wanted the judge to determine if there were aggravating circumstances that could lead to her receiving a more severe sentence if she is convicted of the shooting death of Daunte Wright.
They are the Prosecutors seeking a longer than usual sentencePotter faces charges for first- and two-degree manslaughter in Wright’s murder during an April 11th traffic stop. She was an officer at the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Potter is a white officer with 26 years of police experience. who maintains she mistakenly drew her handgunShe was going to pull out her Taser and apply it on the Black driver, 20 years old.
If Potter is convicted of at least one of the manslaughter counts, she then has the right to have a jury determine whether there were “aggravating factors” in her case that would result in a sentence longer than what’s called for under Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines. The question of aggravating circumstances would not be addressed separately if Potter is found innocent.
The prosecution presented two aggravating circumstances that they believed should be included in the sentencing process. The first is that Potter “caused a greater than normal danger” to the safety of other people when her decision to shoot Wright in an operational vehicle ― with a passenger and two officers close by ― resulted in him and the passenger getting into a serious crash with another occupied car and injuring others on a busy street.
Potter is the second. “abused her position of authority as she was a licensed police officer in full uniform who had seized” Wright.
To convict them, the jury must find beyond reasonable doubt the existence of the aggravating circumstances in order to impose a harsher sentence. Potter claimed that she waived her rights to a jury for the aggravating elements and said it will be up to Regina Chu (Hennepin County District Judge) to decide if they exist.
“Is it your wish to give up your right to a jury trial on whether or not the two [aggravated] factors exist in the event of a guilty verdict?” Chu asked Potter.
“Yes, your honor,” the ex-officer said, adding that she discussed the decision with her attorneys and did not need more time to contemplate it.
Seit 1980 Minnesota has used a guidelines-based sentencing systemTo impose a range of presumptive sentences for all felonies. Despite the potential penalties, judges have the authority to depart from the guidelines when longer sentences are warranted due to compelling issues termed “aggravating factors.”
Many states use guidelines-based sentencing systems to sendencing. In 2004 the Constitution of Senencing Departures was questioned by the U.S. Supreme Court.eviewed an enhanced sentence in Blakely v. Washington.High court in that case found that an enhanced sentence violated Sixth Amendment. This was because the sentencing judge (and not the jury) found that defendant acted particularly cruelty. The landmark case held that any fact ― other than the fact of prior conviction ― that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the defined maximum must be found by a jury, not a sentencing judge.
Minnesota’s Supreme Court published a controversial opinion in 2009 that interpreted Blakely’s case. The state’s high court relied on a self-created distinction between “facts” and “factors” to issue a rule prohibiting juries from making final aggravating factor determinations for sentencing purposes. The court ruled that aggravating factor determinations are legal but not factual. Therefore, the judge can decide if the defendant has waived their right of a jury.
In addition to Potter’s announcement, the trial Tuesday included testimony from Brooklyn Center police Cmdr. After hearing Monday’s testimony from Sergeant. Mychal Johnson was partially inside the car when Wright shot Potter.
Flesland testified that Potter’s actions related to the shooting, as described by her attorney, gave justification to use deadly forceWright. Prosecutors were told by the commander that he only had a portion of footage from his squad car and body cameras, and that he hadn’t done any investigation or reviewed any reports about the incident. He testified that his defense of Potter’s use of force was mostly based on the scenario described by the defense.
Police Sgt. Peterson was also a Taser instructor from the police department. Peterson demonstrated the devices to the jury. how to conduct a Taser “spark” test,This is an operational inspection that Brooklyn Center Police officers are required to perform and record at each shift. Potter only conducted the spark test six times out of 10 before April 11. He had previously done it April 9.