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Potter fallout: Attorneys predict more aggressive prosecution of police following verdict

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 Minnesota's prison system, and at least two prominent Twin Cities defense attorneys believe her conviction may signal a public change in attitude towards cops. 

Potter woke up Friday morning inside Shakopee women's prison after a 12-member jury found her guilty of both first and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright. Defense attorney Marsh Hallberg believes that just a handful of years ago not only would that verdict not have been rendered, it likely would not have been charged. 

"I think there’s been a major shift in the charging decision process by prosecutors and the outcomes that come in court," Hallberg asserted. "I think most people agree this case would not have been charged five years ago... just would not have been charged, as a tragic accident kind of a rationale."

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 shooting death of Justine Ruszcayk, officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd, and now Potter. 

RELATED: Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder, manslaughter in death of George Floyd

"This may be an indicator of how the populous are reacting to these, and holding police more accountable than we have in the past," attorney Mike Brandt told KARE 11's Lou Raguse. "I think, number one, they’re (police cases) going to be pursed more aggressively by the prosecutors."

Both Bryant and Hallberg see another potential impact of the Potter verdict, saying the fallout from the moment she pulled the trigger could convince people that law enforcement is not a viable career option. 

"I think there’s a lot of folks out there concerned that people are not going to want to go into law enforcement because they are going to get second guessed and thrown in prison for doing their jobs," Bryant said. "That may be the mindset that’s out there."

"I think police officers are honestly going to ask the question, do I want to put myself in the position, getting paid what I’m getting paid and the risks I need to take in my life," Hallberg said, " if I put myself in a position where I have to make a snap decision and I make a mistake, that I’m going to prison."

And it's not just police officers who may be rethinking things. Defense attorney Earl Gray forged a not guilty verdict for Yanez in 2017, yet was visibly stunned when jurors returned the guilty verdict against his client Kim Potter. Hallberg says the shifting landscape of attitudes regarding police officers and what they do could have him looking more closely at the cases he works. 

"As a defense attorney, this puts the question whether you want to take police officer cases to trial." 

 

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