In April, former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter pulled over Daunte Wright for an expired tag.
Officer Anthony Luckey, whom Potter was training, made the decision to pull Wright over because he signaled incorrectly, had expired license plate tabs, and he had an air fresher dangling from his rearview mirror.
During the stop, officers learned that Wright had an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a gross misdemeanor weapons charge and attempted to arrest him. In a video of the shooting, officers approached the car and told Wright that he was under arrest. After a brief struggle, Potter pulled out her gun and shot him. Potter said that it was a mistake and she meant to pull out her taser.
In the video, Potter can be heard saying, “S—, I just shot him … I grabbed the wrong f—-ing gun. I shot him.”
Potter, 49, is now pleading not guilty to first and second-degree manslaughter charges. If she is convicted, she can face at least a decade behind bars.
The trial is taking place in the same courtroom where Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd. However, a different judge, Hennepin County Judge Regina M. Chu, is presiding over the trial.
The jury consists of seven White men, four White women, two Asian women, and one Black woman. There are no Black men on the jury.
Prosecution And Defense Give Their Opening Statements
— New York Post (@nypost) December 8, 2021
Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Erin Eldridge emphasized that officers swear an oath “to protect life, not to take life” at the start of the trial on Wednesday morning.
The prosecution spent considerable time rehashing Potter’s extensive training, which included training on how to use a gun appropriately. The prosecution also pointed out the stark color difference and weight between the taser and the gun.
“There is no do over when you take a young man’s life,” Eldridge said. “We trust them to know wrong from right, and left from right,” in reference to the location of the placement of the gun and the taser.
Defense attorney Paul Engh said that Wright was being arrested, and if he had simply submitted to authorities, he would still be with us. He explained that Potter was attempting to use a taser to protect her partner, Sergeant Mychal Johnson, who was inside Wright’s car and would have been injured if Wright attempted to flee the scene in his vehicle.
“She realizes what has happened much to her everlasting and unending regret,” Engh continued. “She made a mistake. This was an accident. She is a human being, but she had to do what she had to do to prevent a death to a fellow officer too.”
Daunte Wright’s Mother Gives Testimony In Tears
Katie Bryant describes running to the scene where he son’s body was on the ground. pic.twitter.com/02k4XWvQPv
— Rochelle Olson (@rochelleolson) December 8, 2021
Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, was in tears when she described the moments that led to the shooting. Wright had asked for fifty dollars to get gas and to get his car washed and left. After he was pulled over, he called her through Facebook Messenger so that she could explain the insurance situation to officers. The car was registered to Wright’s older brother, Dallas.
Bryant was still on the phone with Wright when she heard an officer telling Wright to put the phone down, followed by sounds of a struggle. She heard someone say “Don’t run” to which Wright replied, “I’m not” before the phone disconnected. She tried calling back but got no answer.
When she finally called back via FaceTime, a young woman answered the phone saying, “They shot him” and pointed the phone to the driver’s side of the vehicle. “My son was laying there, he was unresponsive, and he looked dead,” Bryant testified.
Bryant said that she knew that Wright had no car insurance and no driver’s license, but she was unaware that there was a warrant out for his arrest until she heard someone say it at the scene where her son was shot.
“I felt like I could leave until … they took his body off the ground,” she continued. “I wanted to comfort my baby. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to protect him. That’s what mothers do.”