9 of 14 picked for jury for trial in Daunte Wright's death

Prosecutors and attorneys for the suburban Minneapolis police officer charged in Daunte Wright’s shooting death have seated nine of the 14 jurors needed for her trial, including a woman who said she owns a stun gun

Via AP news wire
Thursday 02 December 2021 04:53
Daunte Wright Officer Trial
Daunte Wright Officer Trial

The jury for the trial of a suburban Minneapolis police officer charged in Daunte Wright s shooting death was more than halfway complete after two days of jury selection.

Nine people — five women and four men — were seated heading into Thursday's round of jury selection for Kim Potter 49, who is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 shooting of Wright, a 20-year-old Black motorist, following a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center

Potter, who is white, has said she meant to use her Taser on Wright after he pulled away from officers, but that she drew her handgun by mistake.

The five jurors seated Wednesday included a woman who said she owns both a gun and a stun gun. She was asked whether she could set aside what she knows about her own device — one she said she has never used — and she said she could.

She went on to say that she strongly disagrees that police officers should not be second-guessed for their decisions.

“This is a servitude job, and when you get into this position, you need to understand that it’s a tough job and so you have to maintain that level of professionalism when you get into that position," she said.

Also seated was a woman who said she thought protests against police in the Minneapolis area have had a negative effect because of the property damage some have caused. She also said she somewhat disagrees with the idea of defunding the police, saying, “You’re always going to need police officers.”

A man chosen for the jury said in his questionnaire that he had “somewhat negative” impressions of both Potter and Wright. Asked why about Wright, he said, “I don’t condone fleeing from a police officer.” About Potter, he said, “When training fellow officers your actions should be more thought out.”

Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday, though Judge Regina Chu said they could be moved up. Fourteen jurors — 12 to deliberate plus two alternates — are needed.

Three of the first four jurors seated are white, and the fourth is Asian, according to the court. The court did not immediately release demographic information for the five chosen Wednesday.

Attorneys and the judge have probed potential jurors for what they knew about Wright's death and about their views of protests against police brutality that were frequent in Minneapolis even before George Floyd's death.

Each side has a limited number of peremptory strikes that can be used without requiring a reason. Prosecutor Matthew Frank on Wednesday used up his last two strikes, including one to dismiss a woman who described her fears about violence in Minneapolis, expressed trust in police and said officers shouldn’t be second-guessed.

Frank also used a strike to dismiss a man who said he was a hunter, gun owner and Fox News viewer, and that he hasn't seen any evidence that police treat white and Black people differently.

On Tuesday — the first day of jury selection — an attorney for Potter said jurors would hear directly from the former officer, who resigned two days after she shot and killed Wright. Body-camera video recorded the shooting, with Potter heard saying, “Taser, Taser Taser” before she fired, followed by, “I grabbed the wrong (expletive) gun.” .

Wright was shot in Brooklyn Center as former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was standing trial 10 miles (16 kilometers) away for killing Floyd. Wright's death sparked several nights of intense protests in the suburb.

Jurors' names are being withheld and they were not shown on the livestream of the trial.

The most serious charge against Potter requires prosecutors to prove recklessness; the lesser only requires them to prove culpable negligence. Minnesota's sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of just over seven years on the first-degree manslaughter count and four years on the second-degree one. Prosecutors have said they would seek a longer sentence.

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Find the AP’s full coverage of the Daunte Wright case: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-daunte-wright

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