The criminal complaint filed by prosecutors in Hennepin County, Minn., lists two criminal counts against Kimberly Potter, a former police officer, in connection with the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center in April. Both counts are felonies, but neither is a murder charge.
One of the ways Minnesota law defines first-degree manslaughter is causing someone’s death while committing or attempting to commit a lesser crime — a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor — in a way that a reasonable person could foresee would cause death or great bodily harm.
Specifically, prosecutors accuse Ms. Potter of causing Mr. Wright’s death through reckless handling or use of a firearm.
First-degree manslaughter is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $30,000. The standard sentence for someone without a criminal record, like Ms. Potter, would be about seven years.
One of the ways Minnesota law defines second-degree manslaughter is causing someone’s death through culpable negligence, by creating an unreasonable risk and consciously taking chances of causing death or great bodily harm.
Prosecutors accuse Ms. Potter of doing so while using a firearm.
Second-degree manslaughter is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $20,000. The standard sentence for a person without any previous convictions would be about four years.
Charges Are Not Mutually Exclusive
The two counts are separate and not mutually exclusive; Ms. Potter can be convicted or acquitted of either charge, or of both.
Minnesota law also allows juries to consider convicting a defendant of an “included offense” — a lesser degree of the same crime, or another lesser crime that was proved in the course of the trial — in place of a charge listed in the complaint.