A Brief History
On December 17, 2021, former police officer Kimberly Potter took the witness stand in her own defense at her trial for first-degree manslaughter (among other charges) for shooting Daunte Wright during an attempt to arrest him. Potter mistakenly drew her service pistol instead of her TASER gun and shot Wright as he attempted to flee the scene with another officer hanging from the vehicle Wright was driving. The Potter/Wright case is just another in the string of high profile police use of force cases that have been sensationalized and misrepresented in the media and political forums in the United States over the past few years. (The Potter case may be referred to the jury as early as December 20, 2021.)
The tendency for some politicians, activists, celebrities and media types to falsely portray those people shot (sometimes killed) by police to be some sort of hero, martyr or otherwise wonderful person have reached ridiculous proportions. In many cases (Jacob Blake, for example), the victim of the African American portrayed as victimized by the police and held up as a paragon of virtue is a Black American themselves. Apparently, these Black Lives do not matter if the perpetrator is Black! (This idea is ridiculous. Black Lives DO Matter, including the victims of Black on Black crime.) The constant refrain from the media, politicians, activists and celebrities that the police are “hunting” Black people is not only false, but it is endangering not only police officers on the job but ALL Americans as crime has skyrocketed in 2020-2021 in the face of the constant chorus of anti—police rhetoric and misrepresentations of incidents and those supposed victims of the police.
While the graphic image of seemingly uncaring and callous police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd while Floyd struggled for his dying breaths shocked the nation, making Mr. Floyd out to be a martyr or hero is stupendously ridiculous! The guy was a convicted felon that had just committed another felony. NOT someone to hold up as a role model for our youth. In fact, the George Floyd’s GoFundMe campaign has raised over $13 million dollars to honor this career criminal! (We are not saying that his death was not a tragedy or that Chauvin showed disregard for the life of Mr. Floyd, just that Mr. Floyd was basically a ne’er do well that should not be honored.)
While we generally do not want to demonize a victim of violence, in order to keep perspective and to avoid wrongly portraying a career criminal as a “hero,” we come back to Daunte Wright. Not only was he resisting arrest (a common factor in the sensationalized police use of force cases), but he was wanted on a criminal warrant and tried to take off in a car with a police officer stuck in the driver’s side window, a circumstance that allows for the use of deadly force by that officer or other officers on the scene, which included Ms. Potter. Why was Mr. Wright wanted by the police? Only for the armed robbery and choking of a Black female victim! Wright had previous charges regarding illegal firearm use, violating terms of release, and was the subject of a restraining order to protect a woman. Contrary to testimony and testimonials from his family and friends, Daunte Wright was NOT a good person, but in fact was a victimizer of the community at large and of Black women in particular.
Kimberly Potter is NOT guilty of first degree manslaughter, a charge for which she could face 15 years in prison. The prosecution in the case is demanding the maximum allowable sentence and has faced strident public pressure to raise the main charge against Potter to that of murder. Remember, if Potter had purposely drawn her pistol and purposely shot and killed Mr Wright she would have been well within her legal duties to society. The fact that she, in the heat of the moment facing the imminent death or serious bodily harm to her fellow officer accidentally grabbed her pistol instead of the TASER she intended to grab is a moot point. There is NO reasonable basis for the prosecution of Potter, let alone a finding of guilty for the offenses charged. Once again, as has been happening (see Kyle Rittenhouse case), media hype and aggravation of the situation by politicians and celebrities has caused the unwarranted prosecution of a police officer in a blatantly improper case in which the prosecution should know very well is inappropriate.
Decades ago, as a young police officer, I was told by older cops that “The more you do, the more you get screwed.” (They did not say, “screwed.”) They also counseled that the “More you do, the more you get complained about.” The moral of the story was to do as little as possible for your own good, advice I did not take as I tried to do a good, proactive police job. Today, in the atmosphere of anti-police fever, defund the police, and general demonization of cops everywhere, crime is rampant and police departments are struggling to find proper recruits for “ the job.” Is this scenario what the public wants? Police recruits from the lowest levels of society, wannbe’s that should not even be cops since highly intelligent and well educated and well adjusted potential recruits are scared off from the police profession? If in fact the public wants quality police officers, the public must be willing to attract those recruits with decent pay and benefits, decent working conditions, the backing of politicians, reasonable training programs and budgets and of course, NOT throwing cops under the bus at every opportunity for political purposes!
(See some of our many police related articles, which include incidents of police misconduct as well as police being victims or vilified.)
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you believe in “Defund the Police?” Why or why not? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Cooley, Steve and Robert Schim. Blue Lives Matter – In the Line of Duty. Titletown Publishing, 2017.
Worrall, John. Crime Control in America: What Works? Pearson, 2018.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of law enforcement standing outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department following the justified police shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.