The trial of former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, who was charged in the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man killed during a traffic stop, continues, with Potter taking the stand to testify in her own defense.
Potter, 49, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the April 11 incident. She has entered a not guilty plea to both charges.
The maximum sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine, and the maximum sentence for second-degree manslaughter is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
As the killing occurred just outside of Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, was taking place, protests against racism and police brutality erupted across the country.
After eight days of testimony, attorneys are presenting the final case to jurors in the trial of former Brooklyn Center Kim Potter, who fatally shot Daunte Wright.
Judge Regina Chu has stated that jurors will not deliberate on December 24 or 25, and that if a verdict has not been reached, they will return after the holiday.
The jury is made up of nine white people, one black person, and two Asian people. Both of the alternates are white. The jury is less diverse than the one that convicted Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, in the death of George Floyd.
Potter killed Wright while Chauvin’s murder trial was still going on.
As Kim Potter sobbed on the stand, prosecutor Erin Eldridge pressed her, “You knew that deadly force was unreasonable and unwarranted” in the death of Daunte Wright.
Kim Potter was emotional on the witness stand as she described the fatal traffic stop. She shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was being arrested by officers and attempted to flee.
She stated that she became a field training officer because she “felt I had knowledge and mentorship that I could help young officers develop into someone I would want to work with and my partners would want to work with.”
She was also a member of the domestic abuse response team, where she worked as a crisis negotiator for the domestic abuse program.
“Officers would go out on domestic abuse situations or domestic calls, and if there was a victim of a crime or an arrest made – or not an arrest made – we would follow up the next day with the victims to make sure they were getting the things they needed, like domestic advocates, walking them through getting orders for protections that they had questions about, and then helping them, and checking in with them through the court process,” she testified. Potter stated that as a crisis negotiator, she would respond to calls where people were in danger in order to negotiate with the subject and persuade them to submit to being arrested.
She also claimed to have worked in crime prevention and to have received Taser and firearm training.
Kim Potter is testifying in her own defense about the events of April 11, 2021, that led to Daunte Wright’s death, whom she shot and killed during a traffic stop. She has been charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter. The defense claims Potter intended to use her Taser on Wright but instead grabbed her firearm when she shot him in the driver’s seat of his car, an “action error” according to her lawyers.
The defense has argued that Potter was justified in using deadly force against Wright because he could have injured or killed another officer with his car.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that the Minnesota National Guard is being prepared to provide public safety assistance during Kim Potter’s trial, as requested by Hennepin County and the city of Brooklyn Center.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” Walz said in a statement Wednesday evening, “we are prepared to ask members of the Minnesota National Guard to be available to support local law enforcement with the mission of allowing for peaceful demonstrations, keeping the peace, and ensuring public safety.”
According to a press release from Walz’s press office, “at this time, the Minnesota National Guard will not be proactively assuming posts throughout the Twin Cities.” Guard members will only operate in support of local law enforcement “should they be needed.”