Watch live as Kim Potter goes on trial over Daunte Wright killing
Minnesota police officer Kim Potter, 49, appeared in court on Wednesday as opening arguments began in her trial for the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was killed during a traffic stop in April in the city of Brooklyn Center.
At the crux of the prosecution’s opening was the assertion that Ms Potter “betrayed her badge” and displayed recklessness and negligence when she shot Wright after drawing her gun instead of a taser. The court was shown photos of the jacket Wright was wearing, which was covered in blood.
In its opening, the defence sought to cast blame on Wright, suggesting that he wouldn’t have been shot if he’d listened to Ms Potter’s demands. Attorney Paul Engh asserted that Ms Potter went to tase Wright because “he was going to kill her partner”.
As for her pulling the gun instead of the taser, Mr Engh said: “She made a mistake. This is an accident. She is a human being.”
Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, took the stand for the defence and broke down in tears as she described her last phone call with her son.
A jury of 14, a majority of whom are white, will hear the case and consider charges of first degree and second degree manslaughter.
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the Kim Potter trial.
Who is Kim Potter?
Kim Potter, 49, is a former police officer of more than 25 years for Brooklyn Centre Police Department.
She faces charges of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter for shooting Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb in April 2021.
According to the complaint lodged in the case on 11 April, Ms Potter and another officer she was training stopped Mr Wright’s car because of a traffic violation.
Ms Potter determined that Mr Wright had an outstanding warrant against him on a gross misdemeanour charge, and tried to arrest him, and as Sravasti Dasgupta writes, choosing to deploy a weapon.
Potter claims she made an ‘innocent mistake’ when she shot Wright with her pistol, thinking it was a taser
Outside the Hennepin County Government Center
The courtroom where Kim Potter will go on trial was the same that another former Minnesota police officer, Derek Chauvin, was tried in April – and found guilty for the death of George Floyd.
The deaths of both Mr Floyd and Daunte Wright, who Ms Potter is charged of killing, angered the public and ignited demonstrations against racism and police violence.
What has Kim Potter been charged with?
First-degree manslaughter means prosecutors allege that Kim Potter caused Daunte Wright’s death while committing a misdemeanor.
That is 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 Ms Potter “caused an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm” while using or possessing a firearm.
Posecutors will not need to prove the former officer intended to kill Mr Wright, whose family had called for a higher charge of murder to be filed against Ms Potter.
Comparisons with Derek Chauvin’s trial
A journalist for USAToday compares the scene outside the Hennepin County Government Center this morning, to when Derek Chauvin was on trial in April.
According to local reports, the city spent more than $1m on fences, barricades and barbed wire for the trial of the officer convicted for the death of George Floyd.
It remains to be seen if any protests will occur outside the court for Ms Potter’s trial, and for the death of Daunte Wright.
Who are the jury?
The jury has been selected to represent the racial makeup of Hennepin County, with nine identifying as white, two as Black and one as Asia.
There are two alternates, who are white, and the panel is evenly divided on gender. As The Associated Press reported last week, the jurors include a medical editor, an operations manager, and a recent graduate.
The jury will deliberate at the end of the trial and will decide whether Kim Potter can be found guilty.
City of Brooklyn Center braces for Potter trial
Residents of Brooklyn Center, the Minneapolis , Minnesota, suburb in which Kim Potter is accused of killing Daunte Wright n April, have voiced concerns about demonstrations and possibly violence.
“I don’t want this to be going on, like [my daughter] is already stressed, a lot of people are stressed,” said a Shay Johnson, a 33-year-old mother.
She continued by saying that protests immediately following Mr Wright’s death were shocking, and that “The kids are traumatised; it’s just not me,” in comments to Star Tribune.
While a small protest took place last week during the jury selection, Brooklyn Center is expecting less interest than that seen during the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former office.
“Our community is going through a very difficult time,” City Manager Reginald Edwards said in a recent news release. “The City of Brooklyn Center remains committed to providing various resources to and prioritising the safety of our residents, businesses, families and employees throughout the community.”
Family and attorneys arrive at court
The courtroom at the the Hennepin County Government Center has begun to fill, with attorneys for both sides arriving pictured this morning.
As were Daunte Wright’s family, including his siblings, seen entering the building. The 20-year-old’s mother also attended the court last week for the selection of the jury.
What sentence could Kim Potter face?
Although first-degree manslaughter has a sentence of 15 years in the US, the state of Minneapolis has sentencing laws that call for seven years – and for second-degree, it’s four years rather than 10 years. Prosecutors have said they will seek a longer sentence due to aggravating factors, as was done when former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin went on trial for the murder of George Floyd.
Ms Potter, if convicted, will likely face around 9 years in prison, and as The Associated Press reported, presuming good behaviour, she will serve only two-thirds of that sentence.
What has prosecutor said about manslaughter charge?
Pete Orput, the prosector in Kim Potter’s trial, was forced to defend filing manslaughter charges against the former police officer in April – amid calls for the 49-year-old to face a higher charge.
“I choose not to,” Mr Orput said of filing a murder charge, amid a protest. “I won’t give in to this.”
“And I’ve taken full advantage of the opportunity, I hope,” said Mr Orput in an interview with The Associated Press. “I just love being a prosecutor. … Fairly holding people to account on behalf of victims is what I love about it.”
A number of legal experts have agreed with the charges.
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