Some folks write that the verdict in Kim Potter’s manslaughter case was too harsh. I kind of understand the folks who figure two manslaughter convictions for the same killing could be a bit excessive. I understand that she really did intend to tase (instead of shoot) the guy. I understand the guy she shot contributed to the incident. I understand that the woman Daunte Wright pulled a gun on and attempted to rob and choke would have had a great self-defense plea. I understand Daunte was not a nice man.
I also understand that people who are authorized to use violence on behalf of the state need to be held to a higher standard than actors, than citizens in general. Potter had 26 years of experience, and her career ended with a negligent discharge and a dead guy. It is correct to expect near perfect gun handling from our police – yet many are not particularly proficient with their pistols.
Just before Christmas, a 14-year-old girl was shot and killed in a clothing store’s dressing room. The story reads like a guy who was mentally ill created a furor, attacked a woman with a bicycle lock and was shot and killed by the responding LA police. At least one officer failed to realize that behind his target was an occupied dressing room. Colonel Coopers 4th rule: 4.) Be sure of your target. The long version is “Be sure of what is between you and the target along with what is behind the target”. Responsibility accompanies the decision to carry a gun – for all of us. Even more responsibility accompanies one who is authorized to use deadly force.
Carrying a pistol on the right and a taser on the left may be a systemic problem, a decision made by someone who had little or no experience with how folks react under stress. I’ve never used a taser – but I have had folks tell me how I should pack bear spray instead of a pistol. I’ve carried a handgun off and on for over half a century. Habit tells me where it is. The phrase is unconscious competence – and if I were to convert to bear spray, my skill level would be either conscious competence, or conscious incompetence. If I carried bear spray on the left and a revolver on the right, I would probably do the habitual thing and pull the pistol. An administrative decision may have contributed to the negligent shot that killed Daunte Wright and sent Kim Potter to jail. Still, we should expect better gun handling from police.
Colonel Cooper had 4 rules:
RULE I: ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY
RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET
RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET
Kim Potter violated rule II. It may have been an accident. It was definitely negligence.