Kim Potter: Opening remarks begin trial of ex-Minnesota cop accused of shooting death of Daunte Wright

MINNEAPOLIS – A Minneapolis police officer who said she mistakenly drew a gun instead of her Taser when shooting dead black motorcyclist Daunte Wright was put on trial on manslaughter charges Wednesday, with a prosecutor The staff said that Kim Potter had been trained to avoid such deadly melees – but still wrong.

However, Potter’s attorney argued that she was at fault, saying, “Police are human.” And he blamed Wright, saying all the 20-year-old had to do that day was surrender.

Potter, 49, killed Wright, who was unarmed, during an April 11 stop in Central Brooklyn during a shooting that was captured by her body camera. The white official resigned two days later.

Jurors saw video from officers’ body cameras and police car dashboards showing Potter threatening to shoot Wright with a Taser as another officer tried to pull him out of his car. After she shoots him with the gun, Potter can be heard saying “I just shot him. …I got the wrong gun (at best)!”

The sound of a car crash could be heard after Wright drove away and Potter – who defense attorney Paul Engh said had never fired a gun or Taser on duty in her 26-year career – could heard an uncontrollable scream then, “Oh my God. Oh my God!” before she fell.

RELATED: Here’s what we know about Kim Potter, the officer who shot Daunte Wright

Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, testified about the moment she saw her son lying in the car after he was shot. She said she tried to contact him via a video call after a previous phone disconnection, and a woman – presumably a passenger with Wright – answered and shouted, “They shot he!” and point the phone towards the driver’s seat.

“And my son was lying there. He was unresponsive and looked like he was dead,” Bryant said through tears.

Video of the shooting was played repeatedly on Wednesday. At one point, Potter wiped away tears but turned down an offer to buy tissues from her lawyer.

A predominantly white jury sat last week in the case, which sparked angry protests outside the Brooklyn Central police station last spring just as former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was on trial just 10 miles (16 km) away for the murder of George Floyd.

Engh told the jury that Potter made a mistake when she picked up the wrong weapon and shot Wright after he tried to drive away while she and other officers were trying to arrest him.

The charges do not require proof that Potter intended to kill Wright, and prosecutor Erin Eldridge noted so to the jury.

But Engh also told jurors that Potter would have been justified in shooting Wright even if she had consciously chosen to draw her shotgun, arguing that deadly force was warranted to protect fellow officers. her career. He said police had reason to believe Wright might have a gun and that one of the officers got into Wright’s car and was at risk of being dragged if Wright drove away.

THAN: Predominantly White Jury Sits In The Trial Of Kim Potter, Former Police Officer Accused In The Shooting Of Daunte Wright

In her opening statement, Eldridge told jurors that Potter violated her extensive training – including the risk of firing the wrong weapon – and “betrayed a 20-year-old kid.”

“This is exactly what she has been training for years to avoid,” Eldridge said. “But on April 11, she betrayed her badge and she failed Daunte Wright.”

Potter, who testified in court she will testify, was training a new officer when they pulled Wright in because the license plate tag had expired and the air freshener hung from the rearview mirror.

Potter officer in training that day, Anthony Luckey, testified that while stopping the car, he smelled marijuana and saw cannabis residue on the dashboard of his car. He also said Wright did not have a license and presented evidence of expired insurance in someone else’s name.

After discovering that there was an arrest warrant for Wright’s arrest on weapons charges and a restraining order against Wright, Luckey said he would handcuff Wright and check on the condition of the woman in the car, and he asked Wright to get out.

But when Luckey tried to handcuff him, Wright struggled free of the officer’s grip and got back into the car. Luckey said he was reaching into the car when he heard gunfire, then turned around to see Wright put the car in the driver’s seat before it took off.

Luckey testified that he thought Wright may have had a gun in the car because of the restraining order and his intuition.

Engh said the weapons warrant meant officers had to arrest Wright, and Luckey agreed.

EXPLAIN: How does an officer use a gun instead of a Taser?

Prosecutor Matthew Frank noted that officers have the discretion to decide how much force they can use. Luckey testified that the force he used was to try to pull Wright out of the car and turn it off.

Prosecutors say Potter received extensive training, and it included a clear warning about confusing a handgun with a Taser.

Eldridge told jurors that officers were required to carry their Taser on the non-dominant side and their guns on the dominant side. Potter carries her gun to the right and her Taser to her left, where it is in a “straight out” position to be drawn with that left hand.

“The only weapon she paints with her right hand is a gun, not a Taser,” Eldridge said.

She said Potter violated a number of department policies, including one that said an officer’s flight was not a good reason to use a Taser.

A jury of 14 people, including two white substitutes, is hearing the case. Nine out of 12 likely jurors will knowingly be white, one black, and two of Asian descent.

The most serious charge against Potter requires prosecutors to prove recklessness, while the lesser charge requires them to prove reprehensible negligence. Minnesota sentencing guidelines call for prison sentences of just over seven years for first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree charges. Prosecutors said they would seek a longer sentence.

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse Wednesday night for a brief march, with several family members of the Black men killed by police – including Jacob Blake’s father and friend George Floyd’s daughter, among others – called for justice for Wright by way of conviction.

“If she was a woman of honor, she would admit her guilt and face the consequences,” Courteney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, said of Potter.

Copyright © 2021 by Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Kim Potter: Opening remarks begin trial of ex-Minnesota cop accused of shooting death of Daunte Wright

Dais Johnston

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