The former Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright in a traffic stop will be charged with second degree manslaughter, according to a prosecutor from Washington County. The complaint was still being processed when the news was confirmed in an e-mail to USA Today.
The city’s former police chief, who also resigned Tuesday, said Potter accidentally grabbed her firearm when she thought she was tasing Wright. Wright’s family has rejected police’s characterization of their son’s death as an “accident” and called for Potter to be held accountable.
How could a veteran police officer have confused her pistol for a Taser and fatally shoot 20-year-old Daunte Wright?
The Glock pistol that Potter was wielding when she fired the fatal shot at Wright on Sunday is black metal and almost a pound heavier than the neon-colored plastic Taser she may have believed she was brandishing.
According to Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, National Police Association and a retired 29-year veteran of the Naperville Police Department in Illinois, “A Glock is a very lightweight handgun, but a Taser is heavier than you think.”
The grips on the Glocks and Tasers are made from a similar type of polymer, and Glocks have a trigger safety while Tasers do not.
Dennis Kenney, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor and a former Florida police officer said, “They feel differently in your hands.”
Most departments, including Brooklyn Center, require that officers carry their guns on their dominant side and Tasers on the opposite side to lower the risk of confusing the two weapons.
Smith says it’s more likely that Potter experienced something called “slip and capture.”
“It’s not like she looked at her gun and thought it was a Taser,” Smith said. “It’s a horrible, horrible motor glitch that could happen in high-stress situations. I liken it to when you get into a rental car and go to start it up, you automatically reach for what’s familiar to you before realizing that you’re not in your car. The same issue could have happened here with the Taser.”
Kenney added, “I can only assume muscle memory is what happened here.”
“There is no indication that the officer intended to use deadly force,” the professor said. “That said, it goes nowhere near excusing this mistake.”
Source info at NBC.