“The Minnesota appellate courts should carefully review the record in this case, including the evidence and the judge’s instructions. The function of appellate courts is to be a step removed from the passions of the crowd and to apply the law neutrally and fairly. Such an application of the law to Officer Potter should result in an immediate decision to free her on bail, and then a subsequent decision to reverse her conviction, with instructions to dismiss the indictment.”
The jury’s conviction of Minnesota police officer Kim Potter for the death of Daunte Wright, coupled with the judge’s denial of bail pending her appeal, is a double injustice with dangerous implications for policing in America.
Officer Potter, a decorated policewoman with more than two decades of service, simply did not commit a crime. The prosecution conceded that she did not intend to shoot Wright and that she made a mistake by pulling out and firing a gun instead of a Taser.
Under American law, honest mistakes are not crimes — even if they result in tragic deaths. For example, an elderly driver accidentally putting a foot on the gas instead of the brake and killing a child is not necessarily a crime. It becomes a crime only if the action was reckless, involving a conscious decision to engage in conduct which the defendant knows poses a high risk of serious injury or death.
BY ALAN DERSHOWITZ