The guilty verdicts reached in the case of former suburban Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter will have "devastating effects" for "all of American law enforcement," retired police Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, now a spokeswoman for the National Police Association, said on Newsmax Friday.
"It's the position of the National Police Association that the jury made the wrong decision," Smith said on Newsmax's "National Report." "The prosecution did not prove the criminal elements. This was a terrible mistake, but it should have been handled civilly and procedurally, not criminally. Kim Potter is not a criminal."
Jurors Thursday convicted Potter of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter charges in the killing of Daunte Wright, a Black motorist she shot during a traffic stop after she said she confused her gun for her Taser.
Smith argued on Newsmax that the jury did not learn anything about Wright before making its ruling.
"They got to see a photo of him with his child," said Smith. "He was a violent felon. He put a man, a fellow Black man, in a vegetative state. He was known to carry a firearm. The warrant was for a weapons violation."
Further, Wright "created the chaos of that traffic stop that concluded in officer Potter making a terrible mistake," said Smith.
It's also important to remember that Potter was acting as a field training officer, who had to keep an eye on "her rookie," and even though it's known now that Wright didn't have a gun, Potter should have been judged based on what was happening in the immediate situation, not in hindsight.
"It's incredibly frustrating, and I'm not sure that her defense team did enough in emphasizing the testimony of Dr. Lawrence Miller and the other expert that they brought in from Missouri," she said. "This is what we call a slip and capture error … this was not a rookie mistake. This was a brain glitch. And these things happen. About 250,000 people die every year from medical mistakes. Are we going to start putting surgeons and nurses in prison? Absolutely not."
Police officers, Smith continued, "are people and they make mistakes. This was a terrible mistake that officer Potter is going to have to live with for the rest of her life, but she shouldn't have to do it in prison. This was not a crime. The jury made the wrong decision."
Smith also discussed the crime situation in Chicago and the surrounding region, including the shootings at the Oakbrook Center mall where four people were injured in a shooting Thursday night.
"I was a suburban Chicago cop for 29 years, and what we're seeing is the failed policies of the city of Chicago and Mayor Lori Lightfoot," said Smith. "Now it's starting to encroach its way south and west and north into the suburbs … I hope that the voters and the legislators are paying attention to what's happening."
She accused Lightfoot of using the COVID-19 pandemic to take the spotlight away from her "failed policies" and her "hatred of law enforcement and her absolute failure to protect our city."
With Lightfoot's push for mask and vaccine mandates, "she's going to try and make people more afraid of the coronavirus than they are of getting shot in her streets?" said Smith.
"I hope people are getting tired of her and her rhetoric because it's killing people, and it's mostly killing Black people, the people she keeps saying she wants to protect," she concluded.
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