Prosecution rests case against Kim Potter in Wright death

Prosecution rests case against Kim Potter in Wright death. Prosecutors on Thursday rested their case against Kim Potter, the suburban Minneapolis police officer charged in the shooting death of Black motorist Daunte Wright, setting the stage for a defense that will have Potter directly addressing the jury.

Potter, 49, has said she meant to use her Taser instead of her gun when she shot and killed Wright on April 11 as he had pulled away from officers during a traffic stop and was trying to drive away. Body-camera video captured her shouting “I’ll tase you!” and “Taser, Taser, Taser!” before she fired once.

Her attorneys have also argued that Potter would have been within her rights to use deadly force even if she had intended to do so because a fellow officer was endangered by Wright’s attempt to flee.

Prosecutors called police witnesses to build their argument that Potter, who retired from the Brooklyn Center police force two days after the shooting, was an experienced officer who had been thoroughly trained in the use of a Taser, including warnings about the danger of confusing it with a handgun. They have to prove recklessness or culpable negligence if they are to win a conviction on the manslaughter charges.

The death of Wright, who was Black, set off angry demonstrations for several days in Brooklyn Center. It happened as a white former officer, Derek Chauvin, was standing trial in nearby Minneapolis for the killing of George Floyd. Potter, who is white, is charged with manslaughter.

It wasn’t clear when Potter would take the stand. Her attorneys also planned to call several character witnesses to testify on her behalf, though the judge ruled Wednesday that they would be limited to three.

During Wednesday’s testimony, use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton testified for the prosecution that Potter acted unreasonably in shooting Wright.

“The use of deadly force was not appropriate and the evidence suggests a reasonable officer in Officer Potter’s position could not have believed it was proportional to the threat at the time,” said Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law who also testified for the prosecution at Chauvin’s trial.

Stoughton reminded jurors that Potter warned that she was about to use her Taser on Wright, and said a reasonable officer would not have decided to use a Taser if they thought there was an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.

Stoughton said deadly force would have been inappropriate even if Potter believed another officer was in the car because of the risk that nearby officers or Wright’s passenger could be shot.

And he said that if it appeared Wright was going to drive away, shooting would make things worse because he could be incapacitated and the vehicle itself would become a weapon.

In an acrimonious cross-examination, defense attorney Earl Gray sought to undermine Stoughton’s expertise, including by questioning his experience as a police officer. Gray got Stoughton to agree that Wright would not have been shot if he hadn’t tried to get away, and he fired a series of questions at Stoughton to point out that Wright did not stop resisting the officers despite Potter’s warnings that she intended to use her Taser.

The case is being heard by a mostly white jury.

The remaining members of a missionary group who were kidnapped two months ago have been freed, Haitian police and the group said Thursday.

The spokesman for Haiti’s National Police, Gary Desrosiers, confirmed to the Associated Press that the remaining hostages had been released, but did not immediately provide additional details.

“We glorify God for answered prayer — the remaining 12 hostages are FREE!” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement. “Join us in praising God that all 17 of our loved ones are now safe.”

The Ohio group said it hopes to provide more information later.

The missionaries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16. There were five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old. Their Haitian driver also was abducted, according to a local human rights organization.

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang had threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands were met. Authorities had said the gang was demanding $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear if that included the children in the group.

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Just over a quarter of Republicans accept President Biden as the winner of the 2020 election, according to a new survey that underscores the instability of American democracy and the growing partisan divide over the legitimacy of elections.

“There was a hope there would see growing acceptance of Biden’s victory over time, as people moved away from the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement after Jan. 6. Instead, we saw the numbers stay in place,” said Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist and one of the founders of Bright Line Watch, an organization that monitors the health of U.S. democracy.

Sinking confidence in election outcomes appears to have been fueled by former President Trump’s “Big Lie” — his continued claims of voter fraud in key states, even though such allegations were repeatedly discredited in numerous lawsuits and audits. The fallout of such lies was especially evident on Jan. 6, when thousands of Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in a brazen attempt to halt lawmakers’ certification of Biden’s victory.

Since then, many Republican officeholders and some of the biggest voices in conservative media have clung to the notion that the election was stolen from Trump.

Bright Line Watch’s November survey, released Thursday morning, shows that only 27% of Republicans accept Biden as the rightful winner — the exact same figure as in the group’s February poll — compared with 94% of Democrats who do.

The survey also shows that the 2020 election and its aftermath have hardened partisan attitudes about future elections, leaving Republicans less confident that their votes will be counted accurately in 2022.

Even amid Trump’s constant rhetoric during the 2020 campaign about a potentially rigged outcome, Democrats and Republicans had roughly equal confidence in October 2020 that the coming election would be decided fairly, with 59% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans believing that would be the case.

But the new survey reveals that a partisan gap has opened up in response to that question. Now, 80% of Democrats believe next year’s midterm election will be fair, with just 42% of Republicans saying the same.

“That’s a really scary fact for our democracy right now, that so many Republican voters don’t have confidence in the election,” said Susan Stokes, another founder of Bright Line Watch and a political scientist at the University of Chicago.

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