One major difference is that the policewoman responsible for the Wright shooting is going to be prosecuted and the policeman responsibly for the Babbitt shooting won’t be. Why? From Jonathan Turley at jonathanturley.org:
Within an hour of each other, charging decisions in two lethal police shootings were announced with strikingly different conclusions. The decisions reached in the shootings of Daunte Wright in Minnesota and Ashli Babbitt in Washington highlight concerns over the political and legal elements that can influence such decisions. The timing of the two decisions that involved two chaotic situations raises questions why charges were filed in Minnesota, but not in Washington.
In the Minnesota shooting, police were attempting to arrest Wright who, after a traffic stop, was found to have an outstanding warrant for fleeing police with an unlicensed firearm. Wright broke free of officers while he was being handcuffed and jumped back into the car to drive away. Kim Potter decided to deploy her stun gun against Wright, which would likely be viewed as a reasonable level of force in that circumstance. However, in the struggle, Potter grabbed her service weapon rather than her Taser. In the video, the officer is heard yelling “taser, taser, taser” before she swears and says, “Holy S**t I just shot him.”
Weapon confusion cases
The case has tragically familiar elements as a “weapon confusion” case. There are so many such weapon-confusion cases that departments have tried a variety of solutions, from adding special training to new designs for stun guns. The problem is such training can be lost to the fog and frenzy of the violent scene.
The case is similar to what happened in 2009, when Bay Area Rapid Transit officers struggled with Oscar Grant to arrest him. With Grant on the ground, BART officer Johannes Mehserle warned he was about to use a Taser but then grabbed his service weapon and fired a fatal round into Grant’s back.