Kim Potter trial: Who is the former Minnesota officer and why did she shoot Daunte Wright?

·3 min read

Former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter is set to go on trial on Tuesday as jury selection begins in the case of Daunte Wright’s death.

Ms Potter, 49, a former Brooklyn Centre Police Department officer faces charges of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter for shooting Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, at a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb in April 2020.

Ms Potter claimed she made an innocent mistake when she fatally shot Wright with her pistol, mistaking it for her taser stun gun.

According to the complaint lodged in the case on 11 April, Ms Potter and another officer she was training stopped Wright’s car at a traffic signal because it had an expired registration tag, and an air freshener was hanging from the rearview mirror.

Once he was pulled over, Ms Potter determined that Wright had an outstanding warrant against him on a gross misdemeanour charge, and tried to arrest him along with two other officers.

As Wright attempted to drive away, Ms Potter can be heard on body camera video saying “taser, taser taser” before firing, followed by: “I grabbed the wrong [expletive] gun.”

The video also showed her holding her handgun for about five seconds before firing.

Ms Potter resigned two days later in “the best interest of the community”.

The incident sparked widespread protests in the Minneapolis area, where tensions were already high as another white police officer, Derek Chauvin, was at the time facing trial for the murder of George Floyd, a Black man.

On Tuesday, as jury selection begins, attorneys will go through potential jurors and look at their attitudes toward Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and policing just as in Chauvin’s trial through questionnaires filled out by them.

Around 200 potential jurors have already responded to questionnaires similar to the ones given out during Chauvin’s trial. In the questionnaire, jurors have been asked to provide information on what they already know about the case and whether they have positive or negative impressions about Ms Potter and Wright.

They have also been asked whether they participated in protests following Wright’s death, if they carried any signs in these protests and what these signs said.

Potential jury members have also been asked whether anyone they know had been injured or if their property was damaged due to BLM protests.

Questions also revolved around policing, whether they have a positive or negative view about policing and whether they believed that the police should be defunded.

While the questions are in some cases identical to the Chauvin case, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu’s timeline for jury selection in Ms Potter’s trial is six days, as opposed to the eleven days in the Chauvin case.

As is the norm in Minnesota courts, Ms Potter’s defence team can dismiss up to five jurors without giving a reason, compared with three for the prosecution.

Under Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, first-degree manslaughter calls for a sentence of just over seven years and four years for second-degree.

But prosecutors have said they’ll seek a longer sentence. Wright is being represented by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who also represented George Floyd’s family.

Additional reporting by agencies

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