‘I shot him. Oh my God!’ Moment Minnesota cop Kim Potter collapses with her head in hands after shooting dead Daunte Wright: Never-before-seen footage is shown to jury at start of her trial as prosecutor says she ‘betrayed her badge and oath’
- Former Brooklyn Center cop Kim Potter, 49, is on trial for fatally shooting Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop over his expired license plates on April 11
- Opening statements began Wednesday in Minneapolis where jurors were presented with starkly different views of the white officer
- Prosecutor Erin Eldridge argued that Potter betrayed her badge, her oath and her position of trust and Wright during the botched traffic stop
- Eldridge highlighted the fact that Potter had completed taser training on March 2, just a month before killing Wright claiming she mistook her gun for her taser
- Anthony Luckey, who was training under Potter, gave evidence against her on the first day of the trial
- Potter, a police officer for 26 years, has been charged on two counts; first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter
- A jury of 14 people, including two alternates, was selected to hear the case, consisting of nine white jurors, one black, and two Asian
Jurors in the trial of Minnesota police officer Kim Potter were shown the dramatic moment she collapsed to the ground screaming ‘I shot him, oh my God’ after she had aimed her gun instead of her taser at fleeing Daunte Wright.
Prosecutors played distressing never-before-seen dash cam footage of the April 11 incident which also showed how Wright sped off in his car shortly after being shot, before coming to a stop when he hits another vehicle down the road.
At the same time, the stunned former officer can be heard shouting hysterically, ‘I just shot him. I grabbed the wrong f**king gun’ immediately after firing her weapon.
Potter, 49, claims she shot the 20-year-old ‘by accident’ when she reached for her gun instead of her taser during a traffic stop. Her defense in the high-profile trial is expected to lean heavily on the fact that Wright was attempting to flee when she did so.
But Anthony Luckey, the cop she was training at the time gave evidence against her, saying he heard her yell ‘Taser! taser! taser! a warning supposed to give officers tiime to move away. But almost immediately he saw a flash and smoke and heard the bang of Potter’s gun.
Luckey was so close to Potter when the shot was fired that the casing hit him in the face as it discharged. He said he still had hands on Wright when the bullet hit.
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge told jurors that Potter, who was with the police department in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, betrayed her badge, her oath, and Wright when she drew her Glock 9 mm and shot him in the chest at point blank range as opening statements got underway Wednesday morning.
Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter, 49, (pictured in court) who is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright’s April 11 death
Potter, a 26-year veteran in the force, claims she accidentally shot Daunte Wright (right) when she reached for her gun instead of her taser during a traffic stop over his expired plates in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
The jury was shown body cam and dash cam footage of the dramatic moment Potter shot Wright dead after ‘accidentally’ pulling out her gun instead of her taser
Dash cam footage showed the struggle that broke out between the officers and Wright, who was still sitting inside his car
Eldridge spoke of the trust placed in police as they perform their duty out on the streets – the trust that they will not use their weapons ‘rashly or recklessly’ and that they will uphold their duty to ‘protect the sanctity of life.’
Addressing the jury in calm steady tones Eldridge said, ‘We expect them not to betray their badge and to withhold their oath.
‘We trust them to know wrong from right and left from right.’ That was in reference to Potter pulling her firearm from her right hip rather than her taser from her left.
She continued: ‘This case is about the defendant Kim Potter betraying her badge, betraying her oath and betraying her position of trust. And on April 11 she betrayed a 20-year-old kid.
‘She pulled out her firearm pointed it at his chest and she shot and killed Daunte Wright.’
‘There is no do-over,’ she said. ‘When you walk the streets with a loaded firearm, when you’re entrusted with a deadly weapon as part of your job, there’s no do-over when you take a man’s life.’
Eldridge reminded the jury that Potter put on her duty belt every day with her gun on the right and her taser on the left.
In fact, Eldridge said, she had completed further training on her Taser 7 on March 2. Yet a little over one month later she shot Wright, claiming to have mistakenly used the wrong weapon.
Eldridge reminded the jury that the 26-year veteran of the force had been a cop longer than Wright had been alive.
A fellow cop is pictured on bodycam consoling Potter after she shot and killed Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Prosecutors argued that Potter betrayed her badge and oath by using her weapon ‘rashly or recklessly’ on the day of the botched traffic stop
Unseen dash cam footage showed a stunned Potter reacting immediately after firing her gun
Potter is heard screaming hysterically, ‘Oh s***. I shot him!’ before collapsing with her head in hands on the sidewalk
She painted the picture of Wright, the first son of Katie Bryant and Aubrey Wright, part of a ‘blended family full of love.’
He was a father of then one-year-old toddler Daunte Wright Jr, a young man who once dreamed of being a professional basketball player and who planned to go to trade school and pursue a career.
Instead he died in a traffic stop that Eldridge presented as routine until Potter did ‘exactly what she had been trained to prevent.’
Eldridge took the jury through the events from the moment Potter and her trainee, rookie officer Anthony Luckey, first stopped Wright for having an air-freshener hanging from his rear view mirror and expired tags.
She told them that Wright had been forthcoming and helpful, answering all the questions he was asked and presented him as a scared kid who panicked on learning that he was going to be arrested when a records check showed there was an outstanding warrant against him.
Wright got back into the car as officers tried to cuff him but, Eldridge said: ‘He was not armed, not violent, did not threaten the officers.
‘He got in the car, put his hands on the steering wheel, didn’t punch, didn’t kick…he just pulled away and got in the car.’
Potter got involved, she said, to show her trainee officer what to do. Instead, ‘She showed him how to kill someone. As soon as she gets involved she escalates the situation and she acts recklessly and impetuously.’
Potter drew her gun with her finger on the trigger and fired when in close quarters with two other officers and with Wright’s girlfriend seated next to him in the car, Eldridge said.
The hollow point ammunition used by Brooklyn Center Police Department, ‘tore through Daunte’s body.’
‘There was,’ she said, ‘No bringing him back.’
Wright managed to drive several blocks before coming to a stop when he hit another car. He was pronounced dead at the scene and his girlfriend, who was a passenger in the car, sustained non-life-threatening injuries
Location of the stop and crash: Officers tried to arrest Wright after pulling him and his girlfriend over for a traffic violation at about 2pm on April 11 before realizing he had an outstanding warrant
Eldridge took the jury through the events from the moment Potter and her trainee, rookie officer Anthony Luckey first stopped Wright for having an air-freshener hanging from his rear view mirror and expired tags
Eldridge reminded the jury that this case was not about intent to kill. No-one, she said, would suggest that Potter meant or wanted to kill Wright.
‘This is about an officer who knew she could kill someone if she got it wrong but failed to make sure she got it right,’ she said.
Moments after she fired the fatal shot, Eldridge told the court, Potter uttered a string of horrified statements, ‘Oh s**t! I just shot him. I grabbed the wrong f***ing gun! I shot him.
‘I’m going to go to prison. I killed a boy.’
Eldridge told the jury that they would learn about the training Potter had received in firearms, taser use and maintaining calm in situations of stress. And, she said, they would hear how she ‘flouted’ that training and Brooklyn Center PD policy.
She promised they would hear from a Use of Force expert who would tell them that she should not have even used her taser on the day in April that she fired a bullet that ‘tore through Daunte’s heart.’
According to Brooklyn Center PD policy ‘mere flight of a suspect’ is not good cause for use of a taser. Nor should a taser be deployed when ‘collateral damage’ could be caused – other people hurt – or on individuals operating vehicles.
Eldridge took pains to highlight the differences between Potter’s service weapon Glock and the Taser 7 that she carried on her non-dominant side: its color, grip, weight, safety switch, the red-laser light that shines on the target before it is deployed, the release button from the duty belt and the way it has to be ‘rocked out,’ of its holster.
‘The gun,’ she said, ‘Comes straight out.’
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge reminded the jury that every day Potter put on her duty belt with her gun on the right and her taser on the left
Potter could be heard shouting ‘Taser!’ several times in the moments before she fired her gun. Immediately after, the female officer can be heard saying: ‘I shot him’. It appears she dropped her gun in the aftermath
In fact, showing images of the officer through the years, Eldridge showed that the position and orientation of Potter’s taser showed that she kept it on her left hip and favored a ‘straight draw’ – using her left hand.
She hammered the point home: ‘The only weapon she draws with her right hand is her gun. Not her taser.’
Potter received classroom and practical training on the use of her taser every year, she said. She was certified each year and had to acknowledge receiving and understanding her training.
Potter’s training and the manufacture’s risk warnings made it clear, Eldridge said, that a taser should not be aimed at a subject’s chest but at their back.
Using power points and diagrams Eldridge pointed to the myriad alleged mistakes Potter had made and training she said she had ‘flouted.’
‘I killed a boy,’ Eldridge repeated, ‘Those were the defendant’s words, that’s what she said after she did what she did.’
Wrapping up her opening statement the lead prosecutor said: ‘On April 11 the defendant shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old who had an air-freshener hanging from his rear view mirror, a kid in a Heartbreaker jean jacket.
‘But on April 11 Daunte Wright was not the heartbreaker. It was Daunte Wright who had his heart broken and it was the defendant who broke Daunte Wright’s heart when she fired a hollow point bullet straight into his chest.’
But defense attorney Paul Engh, who addressed the court in his opening statements Wednesday morning, said all Daunte Wright needed to do was ‘surrender’ and he would be alive today.
Where the prosecution had painted Potter as ‘reckless and rash’ Engh argued that Potter ‘had to do what she had to do so save the life of a fellow officer.’
Wrapping up her opening statement the lead prosecutor argued that Potter killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old who had an air-freshener hanging from his rear view mirror, a kid in a Heartbreaker jean jacket’ (pictured)
According to Engh, Potter made the calculated decision to tase Wright on seeing that her partner, Sergeant Michael Johnson was ‘dangling out of the car’ trying to hold on to the gear shift to prevent Wright from driving away.
In a starkly different presentation of the details he said, ‘What she is seeing is that her partner Sergeant Johnson is in the car. He’s a tall individual. He’s in the car restraining the gear shift so that Mr Wright can’t escape.
Potter is expected to testify during the trial
‘And she knows that if Mr Wright’s not stopped he’s about to drive away with a police officer dangling from his car.
‘And she knows, and she’ll tell you this, that when she says, ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ If she does nothing, Mr Wright drives away and either substantially harms Sergeant Johnson, or likely he kills him.’
Engh stated, ‘The facts will show you Mr Wright can stop – all he has to do is stop and he’d be with us. But he goes.’
His voice rising to a shout Engh stated, ‘She can’t let him leave because he’s going to kill her partner!
‘And so, she pulls the trigger believing that it was a taser for why else would she say it?’
He said, ‘She made a mistake. This was an accident. She’s a human being but she had to do it to prevent the death of fellow officer.’
Engh said Potter was a mother of four whose career had been inspired by a police officer visit to her school when she was a child.
She had a special interest in domestic violence, he told the court, was on the hostage negotiation team, the crisis team and was a field training officer.
And while prosecutor Eldridge made light of the traffic stop – presenting it as a thing that happens every day – Engh said that ‘everybody knows’ that traffic stops go wrong. He described them as, ‘the most dangerous thing’ a cop can do.
Across all her years as an officer, he told the court, Potter ‘never fired her gun. Never fired her taser. She never had to. She was good at de-escalating.’
That, according to Engh, is what Potter was trying to do when she shouted, ‘I’ll tase you.’
According to defense attorney Paul Engh (pictured) who addressed the court in his opening statements on Wednesday, all Daunte Wright needed to do was ‘surrender’ and he would be alive today
Daunte Wright’s mother Katie Bryant, 43, (pictured) wept on the witness stand as she recalled the day her son was shot dead as, ‘the worst day of her life’
He said: ‘Which is another way of saying, ‘Please stop so I don’t have to hurt you.’
In an at-times theatrical address during which he shouted and hammered his fist on the desk, Engh cast the scene and the players in a very different light from that presented by the state.
He told the jury that Wright had no license to present because his license was suspended, had an insurance card that was four years old, in somebody else’s name and that the record check showed he had a warrant on a gun charge as well as a protection order against him for harassment of a woman.
He pointed out that the prosecution failed to mention that there was also the smell of marijuana in the car.
Banging his hand on the desk he said, ‘It’s not about tags anymore. It’s about someone who shouldn’t be driving a car at all…. A court of law directed [them] to arrest him. It has nothing to do with a license tag. It has to do with a court order to arrest him.’
The way Engh told it, Wright was no scared kid. He was a man intent on just one thing – escape. And he was prepared to do it at the peril of one of the officers.
He said, ‘He knows exactly what he wants to do and that is escape.’
Potter, he said, shouted ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ because that is what she believed she had in her hand and that was what she had been trained to do.
Engh insisted, ‘If this guy drives away [Sgt Johnson] is dead.’
In fact, he said, ‘The fact that she shouted ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ saved Johnson’s life.’
Engh outlined the case and the witnesses that he would present – an expert in use of force, of the impact of trauma and crisis as well as the officers themselves whom he described as, ‘The only people who really know what happened that day.’
The jury was shown harrowing video of the distraught mother arriving on the scene following a Facetime call in which she had seen her apparently lifeless son in his car
Bryant told the court how she had dialed 911, frantic to find out where her son was and then rushed to the scene, ducking under the yellow tape when she saw her son’s tennis shoes protruding from the white sheet that covered his now lifeless body
Anthony Luckey, Kim Potter’s trainee and witness to the shooting of Daunte Wright testifies on the first day of trial
And he said they would hear from a friend and see video of Potter ‘huddled in a corner of Brooklyn Center Police Department,’ following the shooting.
He said, ‘Her grief and regret were inconsolable, but grief and regret are not a crime either nor is it indicative of one.’
Engh introduced the jury to the idea of ‘action error’ that, he said, would be central to the case and would be explained by an expert expected to testify next Friday.
He compared it to using an old password on a computer, driving back to an old address having recently moved, writing the wrong year on a check without realizing it.
He said, ‘An action error is when we do one thing when we mean to do another ‘They are ordinarily dismissible, but they become quite important when what happens is catastrophic.’
According to Engh, ‘Police officers are human beings. Errors happen and that is what has occurred.’
He concluded by saying that Potter’s ‘good name’ had been ‘besmirched’ by the allegations and coverage of them.
He said, ‘We seek to reclaim it and reclaim it we will. And our request for you to find her not guilty will be well deserved.’
Daunte Wright’s mother wept on the witness stand as she recalled the day her son was shot dead as ‘the worst day of my life.’
Katie Bryant, 43, was the first witness called by the state as they began their case in chief Wednesday afternoon.
Emotional and frequently wiping tears from her eyes she recalled how she rushed to the scene of the incident and recognized her dead son by his shoes which were left uncovered by the white sheet that had been put over his body.
‘I still have scars on the inside of my cheeks because I thought it was a dream and that I would wake up. But I didn’t wake up,’ she said.
Wright’s parents Katie Bryant (center) and Aubrey Wright (blue jacket) gathered outside outside the Hennepin County Government Center with Black Lives Matter activists and attorney Ben Crump (second from right) as the first day of trial began
Defense attorneys on Wednesday made sure to bring before the jury the fact that the family had considered bringing a civil law suit under the guidance of three lawyers, including one with high profile attorney Benjamin Crump’s law firm
As Bryant testified, the jury was shown harrowing video of the distraught mother arriving on the scene following a Facetime call in which she had seen her apparently lifeless son in his car.
Recalling that day Bryant told the court how Wright had called to let her know that he had been pulled over.
‘He sounded nervous scared. He asked if he was in trouble. I said, ‘No you haven’t done anything wrong.’ He sounded really nervous but I reassured him that it would be okay,’ she said.
Bryant asked her son to hand the phone over to the police officer so that she could explain that they had yet to transfer the insurance of the vehicle into his name having gifted him the car just two weeks earlier.
She said: ‘I heard the officer say, “You should put the phone down and just get out of the vehicle.” I could hear the phone being put down.
‘And then I heard the officer telling Daunte, “No” and I heard him say ‘No, I’m not.” It sounded like the officer said “Don’t run.”
‘I heard somebody saying to hang up the phone then. I was panicked I called back it seemed like 100 times but I think it was 4 or 5.
‘So finally I Facetimed, I would say maybe a minute or two [had lapsed]. A female answered the phone and she was screaming and I was like, “What’s wrong?”
‘And she said “They shot him”, and she faced the phone towards the driver seat and my son was laying there. He was unresponsive and he looked dead.’
Bryant told the court how she had dialed 911, frantic to find out where her son was and then rushed to the scene, ducking under the yellow tape when she saw her son’s tennis shoes protruding from the white sheet that covered his now lifeless body.
She was prevented from approaching him, but waited at the scene six or seven hours because she would not leave him there alone.
She said: ‘I wanted to comfort my baby. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to protect my baby that’s what mothers do, make sure he was safe.’
Bryant took the stand as a ‘spark of life’ witness there to give the jury a picture of Wright’s life as well as his death.
Earlier she recalled her son as a ‘jokester who liked to make everybody laugh,’ and whose smile ‘lit up the room.’
As she spoke the jury were shown photographs of Wright including one of him holding his son, Daunte Jr on his first birthday last July.
Judge Regina Chu permitted three of the five photographs that the state wanted to admit into evidence.
Damik Wright (L) and Diamond Wright (R), siblings of Daunte Wright, arrive at the Hennepin County Government Center for opening statements in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, on Wednesday
Dallas Bryant (R), brother of Daunte Wright, arrives with family at the Hennepin County Government Center on December 8, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Daunte Wright had a warrant out for his arrest for firearm offenses at the time of his death and was previously charged with attempted aggravated robbery in 2019 incident
Daunte Wright had a warrant out for his arrest after missing a court hearing on misdemeanor firearms charges at the time of his death, according to court records.
Police officers learned of the warrant after pulling the 20-year-old over for having expired license plate tags in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11.
But DailyMail.com revealed Wright was also due to face trial on a separate charge of attempted aggravated robbery – with a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison – after allegedly holding a woman at gunpoint in 2019.
Charging papers say Wright and a second man, Emajay Driver went to a home shared by two women in Osseo, Minnesota ‘to party’ in December 2019. At the time, Wright was 19 and Driver was 18.
Daunte Wright (pictured in his booking photo) 20, had been arrested on attempted aggravated robbery charges after allegedly holding a woman at gunpoint for $820 in December 2019
The women asked them to leave around 2:30 am on December 1, but they said they didn’t have a ride and the women – who are not identified in the court documents – allowed them to sleep on the floor.
In the morning, one of the women went to the bank to get her $820 rent money which she gave to the other woman and then left for work. As Wright, Driver and the second woman were leaving, Wright allegedly tried to hold up the woman.
‘The three of them were walking to the door to exit the apartment and defendant Wright turned around and blocked the door preventing victim from leaving,’ says the report, written by Osseo Police Officer Shane Mikkelson.
‘Defendant Wright then pulled a black handgun with silver trim out from either his right waistband or his right coat pocket and pointed it at victim and demanded the rent money,’ continued Mikkelson.
‘Victim said ‘Are you serious?’ Defendant Wright replied: ‘Give me the f**king money, I know you have it.’
When the woman again asked him if he was serious, Wright is said to have replied: ‘I’m not playing around.’
Mikkelson’s report said: ‘The $820 cash was tucked in the victim’s bra and defendant Wright placed his hand around victim’s neck and choked her while trying to pull the cash from under her bra.
‘Victim was able to get loose from defendant Wright and started to kneel down and scream.’
After more yelling, Wright allegedly told the woman that he was going to shoot her unless he got the money.
‘Give me the money and we will leave,’ he allegedly said. ‘Give me the money and we will go.’
Mikkelson added: ‘Defendant Wright then tried to choke victim a second time and tried to take her money. Defendant Driver was telling her to give defendant Wright the money.
‘Defendant Driver then said: ‘Let’s go,’ and the two defendants left and got into a white Cadillac and left the scene,’ wrote Mikkelson.
‘Afterwards, victim found that the cash was still in her bra.’
Mikkelson said the woman identified both Wright and Driver through photo line-ups.
Wright’s bail was originally set at $100,000 with orders that he should not contact the victim or any witnesses, refrain from drugs and alcohol and not have any weapons. A bond bailsman paid $40,000 for his release.
But he was arrested in Minneapolis in July last year on charges that he was in possession of a firearm without a permit.
He was also in violation of his bail conditions for the attempted robbery arrest, which prohibited him from possessing a firearm, and he had not kept in touch with his probation officer, court papers show. He was released on bond in September 2020.
But on April 2 – just days before he was shot dead – he missed his first court appearance related to the firearms arrest and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
This was the warrant that appeared on records when he was confronted by officers before he was shot dead.
Frequently dabbing her eyes with a tissue she said: ‘He was a very proud dad. He did worry…because Daunte Jr was very premature.
‘He would play with him. He would do everything a child needed from a dad. He was an amazing dad.’
On the day of his death she said Wright had asked to borrow $50 to take his new car to the carwash and to get gas.
He kissed his son goodbye, she said, and she told him to be quiet and not wake the napping toddler.
Potter’s lawyer Earl Gray followed up with a brief and surprisingly aggressive cross examination.
He asked Bryant if she knew her son did not have a driving license and that the car was not insured. She admitted that she did.
He asked if she was aware of the warrant out on him and of his marijuana use. She said she was not.
And he made sure to bring before the jury the fact that the family had considered bringing a civil law suit under the guidance of three lawyers, including one with high profile attorney Benjamin Crump’s law firm.
Second to testify was Officer Anthony Luckey the rookie cop Potter was training that fateful day, now called to testify against her.
Luckey, 31, who has been a police officer for three years joined Brooklyn Center Police Department in February just two months before the shooting.
The officer said that a taser is always worn on the opposite side from a duty firearm, ‘so that way officers do not get their firearms confused with their tasers.’
Luckey said it was his decision to stop Wright after seeing him indicate right in the left turn lane before turning left and seeing an air-freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.
When he ran the plates he saw that they had expired in January and the vehicle was registered to Dallas Bryant, Daunte’s older brother.
Luckey ran a records check that revealed Wright’s outstanding warrant and the protection order secured by a woman against him.
He recalled smelling marijuana when he approached the car and seeing ‘marijuana residue scattered about the central console.’
But he said that Wright was co-operative, answering questions truthfully and that he did not feel under any threat despite his intuition telling him to call for back-up ahead of making the stop.
Bodycam and dashcam footage played in court backed up the story that Luckey told of an initially calm traffic stop that devolved into chaos.
Under Frank’s questioning he revealed how Wright had pulled his arm away as he tried to cuff him then tried to get back into his car.
The officer was struggling to regain control and get Wright out of the vehicle and still had hands on him when he heard Potter shout, “I’m going to tase you,’ twice.
Amid some confusion, Luckey said, he heard her shout ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ – a warning supposed to give officers time to move away before a taser is deployed. But almost immediately he saw a flash and smoke and heard the bang of Potter’s gun.
He was so close to Potter when the shot was fired that the casing hit him in the face as it discharged. He said he still had hands on Wright when the bullet hit.
The proximity of the other officers and Wright’s passenger when the shot was fired is key to the state’s contention that Potter used her weapon, ‘recklessly.’
Snow is removed from the entrance of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on Wednesday as opening statements begin in the trial
Potter and two other officers attempted to detain Wright after learning there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest for a misdemeanor weapons violation
As Wright drove off Luckey said that Potter ‘immediately became hysterical’ and ‘stated that she had shot him.’
Footage of the shooting and its aftermath, shown during opening statements, was played extensively during Luckey’s testimony.
CHARGES AND POTENTIAL PENALTIES IN KIM POTTER TRIAL:
FIRST-DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER PREDICATED ON RECKLESS USE/HANDLING OF FIREARM AND SECOND-DEGREE MANSLAUGHTER:
- First-degree manslaughter in this case means prosecutors allege that Potter caused Wright’s death while committing a misdemeanor – the ‘reckless handling or use of a firearm so as to endanger the safety of another with such force and violence that death or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable.’
- The second-degree manslaughter charge alleges that she caused his death ‘by her culpable negligence,’ meaning that Potter ’caused an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm’ to Wright, while using or possessing a firearm.
- Neither charge requires prosecutors to prove Potter intended to kill Wright.
- The maximum for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years; for second-degree, it’s 10 years. But Minnesota judges follow sentencing guidelines that normally call for less – just over seven years for first-degree, and four years for second-degree.
- Prosecutors have said they will seek a longer sentence due to aggravating factors, which is what they did in former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial for killing George Floyd.
- The longest sentences that could conceivably stick on appeal are double the top of the guidelines range. But that’s more than the statutory maximum of 15 years for first-degree manslaughter, so 15 years would be the cap for Potter if she’s convicted. The realistic maximum on the lesser charge would be 9 1/2 years.
- Presuming good behavior, Minnesota offenders typically serve two-thirds of their time in prison and one-third on supervised release.
Again and again the court watched Potter shoot Wright then collapse to the ground, as he drove off. Again and again they heard her scream ‘I shot him! I grabbed the wrong f***ing gun! I shot him! Oh my God!’
They listened as she wept and wailed and collapsed on the grass verge at the side of the road with her hands covering her face while her colleagues attempted to calm her.
For the first time Sergeant Mychal Johnson’s voice was heard telling Potter, ‘Kim that guy was trying to take off with me in the car.’
Defense counsel Engh immediately picked up on this. Earlier the defense had introduced an unexpected twist with their suggestion that Potter was acting to save Johnson from injury or death as he ‘dangled’ out of the car in which Wright was attempting to flee.
Bit by bit Engh sought to unpick the image of Wright as a compliant subject who was no threat. In fact, he painted a picture of a stop where officers had genuine reason to fear for their safety.
He reminded the court that Luckey’s intuition that ‘something was amiss’ had been ‘validated’ by the absence of a license or insurance and the smell of marijuana.
His sense of threat was then ‘accelerated’ Engh said by the fact that Wright had a bench warrant for a gun and a protection order against him for harassment.
Searching for such things was ‘police work 101’ according to Engh, ‘Nothing unique to Daunte Wright.’
Engh’s line of questioning highlighted the warnings Wright had been given – by Luckey when he said, “Don’t do it bro” and by Potter when she yelled, ‘I’ll tase you.’
Despite being a witness for the state, when asked if he would have used his taser to prevent Wright from fleeing had he been able, Luckey said, ‘Yes.’
Asked if he believed Wright to be in control of the car when Potter yelled, ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ – a factor that would put her actions in direct conflict with Brooklyn Center PD policy – Luckey said, ‘No.’
Potter, a police officer for 26 years before she resigned five days after the shooting, has been charged on two counts; first-degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/handling of a firearm and second-degree manslaughter.
With no criminal history, she is unlikely to receive the maximum sentence on either count should she be convicted. The maximum penalty for first degree manslaughter in Minnesota is 15 years but sentencing guidelines of 7-10 years mean she could be looking at less than half of that time behind bars.
But the prosecution has made it known that they intend to press for an upward departure from these sentencing guidelines and more prison time.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has given two grounds for this request.
According to the AG, Potter’s actions endangered the safety of others as she fired into a car in which there was a passenger present, near two other officers and while the car had its motor running on a busy street.
Wright drove off after he had been shot and hit another car before he came to a stop.
Ellison has also stated that she abused her position of authority as a licensed police officer.
The defense has already had a series of disappointments ahead of Wednesday’s openings during pre-trial motions Monday.
Judge Chu denied a defense bid to include in her jury instructions comments about Wright’s decision to flee, the fact that an officer does not need a warrant to make an arrest or any suggestion that the jury can consider Wright’s own actions as having contributed to his death.
She did however allow limited testimony on Potter’s character about her reputation for being peaceful and law-abiding.
Katie Bryant and Aubrey Wright, parents of Daunte Wright, cry as the speak during funeral services of their son at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis, on April 22, 2021
Daunte Wright’s name appeared on a fence in front of a heavily fortified Brooklyn Center Police Department on the eve of the trial Tuesday
Wright’s death sparked several nights of intense protests in the Minneapolis suburb
Wright’s shooting took place just ten miles from the Hennepin County District Courthouse in which Potter’s trial is being heard.
It happened while Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was standing trial there for the murder of George Floyd and ignited days and nights of unrest as protesters clashed with law enforcement.
Now, with the start of the trial, the specter of violence and disorder has risen once more in Minneapolis.
The concrete barriers that flanked the courthouse during Floyd’s trials have been removed but nobody is taking any chances and security around the court and the jury remains tight.
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article