Potter’s verdict could lead to more aggressive prosecution of police

Two prominent defense attorneys tell KARE 11’s Lou Raguse that Potter’s conviction may be an indicator that the public is ready to hold officers more accountable.

Former police officer Kim Potter is now a resident of the Minnesota prison system, and at least two prominent Twin Cities defense attorneys believe his sentencing could signal a change in public attitudes toward cops.

Potter woke up Friday morning inside Shakopee Women’s Prison after a 12-member jury found her guilty of first and second degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright . Defense attorney Marsh Hallberg believes that just a few years ago, not only would this verdict not have been reached, but he probably would not have been charged.

“I think there’s been a major shift in the process of charging decisions by prosecutors and the results that come in court,” Hallberg said. “I think most people would agree that this case wouldn’t have been charged five years ago…just simply wouldn’t have been charged, like a tragic accident sort of a vindication.”

In the years since St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castille during a traffic stop, juries have convicted Minneapolis officer Mohamed Noor in the death shot by Justine Ruszcayk, officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, and now Potier.

RELATED: Derek Chauvin Found Guilty of Murder and Manslaughter in George Floyd’s Death

“It may be an indicator of how the population reacts to these and holds the police more accountable than in the past,” attorney Mike Brandt told Lou Raguse of KARE 11. “I think, all of first, that they (police cases) are going to be handled more aggressively by prosecutors.”

Both Bryant and Hallberg see another potential impact from Potter’s verdict, saying the fallout from when she pulled the trigger could convince people that law enforcement isn’t a viable career option. .

“I think there’s a lot of people who are concerned that people won’t want to get into law enforcement because they’re going to be guessed and thrown in jail for doing their jobs,” Bryant said. “Maybe it’s the mindset that’s there.”

“I think the police are going to honestly ask the question, do I want to put myself in the position, get paid what I get paid and the risks I have to take in my life,” Hallberg said, “if I put myself in a position where I have to make a quick decision and I make a mistake, that I’m going to jail.”

And it’s not just the police who may be rethinking things. Defense attorney Earl Gray forged a not guilty verdict for Yanez in 2017 but was visibly stunned when jurors returned the guilty verdict against his client Kim Potter. Hallberg says the changing landscape of attitudes about police officers and what they do could cause him to take a closer look at the cases he works on.

“As a defense attorney, it begs the question of whether you want to take the cases of the police officers to trial.”

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