The Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright told jurors at her manslaughter trial on Friday that she “didn’t want to hurt anyone” that day, said in sometimes tearful testimony that she shouted warnings about her Taser use after she saw fear on an officer’s face.
Kim Potter, 49, has said she intended to paint her Taser instead of her shotgun during the April 11 traffic stop in Downtown Brooklyn when she killed Wright. She testified that she was “sorry that it happened” and that she doesn’t remember what she said or everything that happened after the shooting, saying that most of her memory of those moments is ” missing”.
Potter was charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the murder of Wright, a 20-year-old black motorcyclist who was hit by an expired license plate tag and an air freshener hanging from the car. his rearview mirror. Potter, who was training another officer at the time, said she probably wouldn’t have pulled Wright’s car over if she had gone on her own that day because many drivers were slow to renew their cards at the time. the point of the pandemic.
After she and two other officers who were on the scene that day decided to arrest Wright on an pending warrant for a weapons violation, the encounter “just turned into chaos,” Potter told the jury. Wright shunned the officers and returned to his car, police body camera footage of the traffic stops showed.
“I remember screaming, “Taser, Taser, Taser,” and nothing happened, and then he told me I shot him,” Potter said through tears. Her full-body camera video captures Wright saying, “Ah, he shot me” shortly after filming.
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Potter’s lawyers argued that she made a mistake but would also be justified in using deadly force if she did it on purpose for one of the other officers, then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson, in danger of being dragged by Wright’s car.
Johnson testified last week that he leaned on the car to make sure the gearshift was parked and the engine turned off, and that he grabbed Wright’s right arm with both hands to try to handcuff him. He said at the time he couldn’t see what Potter was doing, but began to back away when he heard Potter shouting, “Taser!”
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Composite video appears to show Johnson’s hand still in the car at the time of the shot.
Potter said nothing in court about making the mistake, and she appeared to be giving a chronology of what happened without providing insight into what she was thinking.
During the cross-examination, prosecutor Erin Eldridge noted that Potter told a defense expert that she didn’t know why she drew her Taser. Quoting from the expert’s report, Eldridge said that Potter said, “I don’t have an answer, my brain says take the Taser.” Potter told the court she didn’t remember saying that.
Eldridge trained Potter hard, leading her to agree that training in the use of force was a “key element” to becoming an officer. Potter testified that she also received training on when and how much force to use, and had a policy that dictated what officers could or couldn’t do.
Potter testified before interrogation by one of her attorneys that she had no training in “weapons confusion,” saying it was covered in training but not something that the attorneys general. Her division’s officers were physically trained. She also said she has never used a Taser on duty in her 26 years with the force, although she has pulled it out a few times to relieve tension and that she has never used a gun. his until the day he shot Wright.
Potter, who is training Officer Anthony Luckey, said Luckey noticed Wright’s vehicle in the turn lane with the signal on improperly, then saw an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror as well as a tag that had been turned on. expired.
She said Luckey wanted to stop the car, and although she “most likely” wouldn’t do so if she was on patrol alone, it was important for the interns to meet a lot of people with the public. She said after they found out that there was an arrest warrant for Wright, they were forced to take him into custody.
She said they were also asked to find out who Wright’s female passenger was because a woman – another, it turns out – had carried out the restraining order against him.
While defense attorney Earl Gray walked away showing her what had happened, he did not ask her if she intended to draw her Taser. A prosecution witness earlier this week testified that she would not have decided to use her Taser if she thought there was a risk it could cause death or major bodily harm.
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Potter, who resigned two days after the shooting, was self-evident and gave a brief answer to most of the cross-examination.
Under questioning by her own attorney, Potter said she had been receiving treatment since the shooting, and that she had left Minnesota and was no longer a police officer. She said she left the police force because “so many bad things are happening. … I don’t want anything bad to happen to the city. ”
Wright’s death sparked days of angry protests in Downtown Brooklyn. It happened when another white officer, Derek Chauvin, was on trial in nearby Minneapolis for the murder of George Floyd.
Before Potter took his stand, a defense witness testified that police officers could mistakenly draw guns instead of Missions in high-stress situations because of their intensive training. takes place.
Laurence Miller, a psychologist who teaches at Florida Atlantic University, says that the more someone repeats the same action, the less they have to think about it. Miller says that when a person learns a new skill, the memory of the old skill can overwrite that skill, leading to “action errors” where an intended action has an undesirable effect.
“You plan to do one thing, think you’re doing it, but do something else, and then only realize that the action you intended was not the action you took,” he says.
Some experts doubt this theory. Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina who was not involved in Potter’s trial, has said that there is no science behind it.
In cross-examination, Eldridge cited a 2010 article Miller wrote in which he described how police were able to avoid what he called “a big mistake.” He writes that many such mistakes are preventable through proper training and practice.
State sentencing guidelines call for just over seven years in prison when convicted of first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree, though prosecutors have said they plan to push long sentences. than.
Both sides will present closing arguments on Monday before the case goes to a predominantly white jury.
Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press writers Tammy Webber of Fenton, Michigan, and Steve Karnowski of Minneapolis also contributed.
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