“The use of deadly force was not appropriate and the evidence suggests a reasonable officer in Officer Potter’s position could not have believed it was proportional to the threat at the time,” Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina Law professor, testified.
Defense attorneys have admitted that Potter made a mistake in pulling her gun on the 20-year-old, instead of her taser, but that even if she did mean to shot Wright, she would’ve been justified because of the threat he posed to her partner.
Stoughton was asked on the stand if it would’ve been reasonable for an officer in Potter’s position to use deadly force if they knew that yelling “Taser” would’ve prompted their partner to move away from the car.
“No, it would not have been proportional because there is no longer an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm,” he said.
In graphic body cam footage of the incident, Potter can be heard yelling, “Taser!” while pulling out her firearm.
To justify deadly force, Stoughton added, a reasonable officer in Potter’s position would have had to know that her partner was at risk of getting dragged and stopping the driver was the only way to prevent it.
Potter is facing first- and second-degree manslaughter charges.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.