UPDATE (5 p.m.): Kim Potter will testify in her own defense, one of her attorneys said Tuesday during the first day of jury selection in her manslaughter trial in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.
Potter is the former Brooklyn Center police officer charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 shooting during a traffic stop in the suburb north of Minneapolis. Potter said she thought she was using her Taser but instead fired her gun. Wright, 20, died at the scene.
During jury selection Tuesday, four jurors were seated out of the 14 needed for the trial. According to the court, three of the seated jurors are white. Two of them are men, and two of them are women. One of the women is Asian.
The first juror selected, a white man in his 50s, was a highly-educated medical journal editor with an unfavorable view of Blue Lives Matter. The second juror selected, a white woman in her 60s, was a retired special education teacher with unfavorable views of both Potter and Wright.
The third juror selected, a white man in his 20s, had spent a number of years touring with a rock band but currently works for Target as a distribution center manager. He wrote in a questionnaire that he distrusts the police.
The final juror chosen Monday was an Asian woman in her 40s. She expressed concerns over whether or not she’d be paid by her employer while serving on the jury. She described herself as a “rule-follower” with a respect for police and law.
Seven potential jurors were struck from the jury pool. The defense used one of its five peremptory challenges to remove a potential juror who said that they supported defunding the police and worked for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s campaign.
Jury selection in the trial is slated to continue Wednesday at 9 a.m.
UPDATE (4:52 p.m.): The defense uses its first peremptory challenge against potential juror No. 15. She was excused from duty.
The potential juror told the court that she volunteered for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s campaign in 2018. While she worked for Ellison for a month, she said that she did so to get experience in local politics, not because she supported Ellison specifically as a political figure.
In her questionnaire, No. 15 said she had a “somewhat negative” view of Kim Potter and a “neutral” view of Dante Wright. She wrote that the fatal shooting was “absurd” in that it happened during the trial of Derek Chauvin. She also said that she did not think that Potter intentionally shot Wright.
No. 15 said she visited George Floyd Square, participated in a related protest in Minneapolis, and supports defunding the police.
UPDATE (4:26 p.m.): Potential juror No. 14 is excused for cause.
The potential juror told the judge that he is currently a sophomore in college with finals approaching. He also said that his political leanings would likely make him biased in the case.
UPDATE (4:15 p.m.): Potential juror No. 11 is seated, becoming the fourth juror chosen for the Kim Potter trial.
She told the judge that she knew someone who was killed in a stabbing years ago in Minneapolis, but she stated that the case would not affect her ability to be impartial. She described herself as a “rule-follower” who would try her best to abide by the rules of the court. She is single.
When being questioned by prosecutors, No. 11 said that she works in downtown Minneapolis and has been concerned for her safety in the area as of late. She said that she believes that police provide order but sometimes make mistakes.
UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): Civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms, who represent the family of Daunte Wright, issue a statement on the fist day of jury selection in the Kim Potter trial.
“As jury selection begins in the trial of former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter for the senseless and preventable death of Daunte Wright, we stress the utterly needless loss of his life,” the statement said, adding that the encounter between the then-officer and Wright was unnecessary and over a minor traffic violation.
The statement continued: “We must look past the shameless victim blaming that has been and will be directed towards Daunte. We must also not be fooled by the Defense’s cries of an “innocent mistake.” No reasonable officer can confuse their Taser for a gun, particularly a training officer who drew both of those weapons from her duty belt countless times. Daunte Wright should not have been stopped or shot. He should be here with us, hugging his parents, siblings, and young son during this holiday season.”
UPDATE (3:25 p.m.): Potential juror No. 10 in the Kim Potter trial is excused for cause.
The potential juror told the judge that he’s got a lot going on in his personal life. He said that his wife had COVID-19 and was on a ventilator for weeks. She is currently going through treatment for cancer.
The potential juror also told the judge that he feels uncomfortable with the prospect of being a juror and expressed concern that people would recognize him in the courtroom. He said he works at a Hennepin County workhouse.
The potential juror said that he had a “very negative” view of Potter and a “somewhat negative” view of Daunte Wright.
UPDATE (2:36 p.m.): Potential juror No. 9 has been excused for cause and will not be part of the jury.
New group of potential jurors arrive, are given instructions by judge.
UPDATE (2:22 p.m.): Potential juror No. 9 says they are still unsure if they want to be a juror on the trial. They checked “unsure” on the questionnaire.
The potential juror says they have traveled abroad and encountered people aware of the case in foreign countries. They say they will serve on the jury if selected.
Defense begins questioning by mentioning that the potential juror seems hesitant about serving on the jury.
The potential juror doubts they’ll be selected for the jury, since they don’t believe the evidence shown at the trial will change their mind. The potential juror said they have bias against Kim Potter and wouldn’t be the best selection.
UPDATE (2:10 p.m.): Potential juror No. 8 has been excused. The state used one of its three strikes.
Potential juror No. 9 is now being questioned by judge.
UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): Following a lunch break, potential juror No. 8, a retired Minneapolis firefighter, is now being questioned during jury selection.
The potential juror clarified their “somewhat negative” impression of Kim Potter, saying it wasn’t so much based on their personal view of Potter, but the situation that happened. They say they can be impartial in the trial.
Judge says she likes that potential juror No. 8 said they are an “open-minded and fair person” in the questionnaire. The potential juror, who was a captain in the fire department, said he always respected the thoughts and opinions of the firefighters in his department. He also said he’d never try to monopolize the conversation.
On protests and demonstrations, the potential juror says it can affect the community in both positive and negative ways.
On Black Lives Matter, the potential juror said they have a “somewhat unfavorable” view and that the group could work harder on violent crime in the Twin Cities.
UPDATE (12:30 p.m.): Three jurors have now been seated in the Kim Potter trial.
The third juror seated spent their 20s touring in a rock band and has had training with a stun gun in the past.
The juror said they rushed their questionnaire and wished they had taken more time with it.
UPDATE (11:55 a.m.): A second juror has been seated in the Kim Potter trial.
The juror indicated they had a negative impression of both Potter and Daunte Wright, but said they could set aside their impressions.
The juror, a teacher, said a student called her “strict but fair.”
UPDATE (11:30 a.m.): A defense attorney for Kim Potter says the former Brooklyn Center police officer will testify in her manslaughter trial.
While questioning a prospective juror, defense attorney Paul Engh said Potter will take the stand.
UPDATE (10:50 a.m.): Potential juror No. 5 has been excused and will not serve on the jury.
The juror said they would do their “civic duty” and do their best to be impartial. They expressed frustration at crime in the Twin Cities, called Black Lives Matter a “Marxist, communist” organization and said if Daunte Wright had listened to directions during the traffic stop, “he would still be with us.”
UPDATE (10:15 a.m.): Prospective juror No. 4 has been excused and will not serve on the jury.
The juror indicated on their questionnaire they had a “very negative” impression of Kim Potter and “neutral” impression of Daunte Wright.
UPDATE (9:58 a.m.): Potential juror No. 2, the first prospective juror questioned, will serve on the jury in Kim Potter’s trial.
The juror was questioned by Judge Regina Chu, defense attorney Earl Gray and prosecutor Matthew Frank.
UPDATE (9:40 a.m.): Judge Regina Chu has begun questioning potential jurors individually, beginning with prospective juror No. 2.
UPDATE (9:10 a.m.): Judge Regina Chu has brought in the first panel of prospective jurors in the trial for Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright.
Twelve jurors and two alternates will be selected.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tuesday morning, lawyers and a judge will begin selecting the jury that will decide the fate of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter.
Potter, who is white, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was Black, during a traffic stop in April. She is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter.
The police chief at the time said Potter meant to use her Taser, but grabbed her gun. Both Potter and Chief Tim Gannon resigned after Wright’s killing, and the Brooklyn Center City Council fired the city manager.
Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, said the prosecution will have to prove different things for each manslaughter charge.
“In both cases, we’re dealing with recklessness or negligence. And for the first-degree manslaughter, that means that there’s an underlying offense. In this case, they’re alleging misdemeanor mishandling of a firearm,” he said. “For the second-degree, they’re just stating that it is reckless or extreme negligence. So for the second one, they would have to show that Ms. Potter was extremely negligent when she did the act. For the first-degree, they would have to show not only was she negligent, but also, she did an underlying crime, meaning the misdemeanor mishandling of a weapon.”
Tamburino said jury selection in a high-profile case such as this one presents its own challenges.
“It’s going to be difficult,” he said, “because many people have seen this video, many people know the situation, so the issue will become this: regardless as to whether or not someone has seen the videos, read about the case, heard about the case, can they put that all aside and try to be a fair and impartial juror? That’s the person that they want to find.”
Wright’s killing, which happened during the trial for Derek Chauvin, who was eventually convicted of murdering George Floyd, ignited several nights of protests in the city, mostly centered around the police station. Protests spilled into other parts of the Twin Cities as well.
The city sent out a release ahead of jury selection, saying it “has been working with residents, community organizations, and all department leaders in preparing for the trial and peaceful protesting.”
The city said it has implemented measures such as “identifying space for peaceful protesting,” “utilizing space and distance to de-escalate tension in the protest area” and adding patrols from outside law enforcement agencies.
On Monday night, the city council failed to pass a measure that would have given the city manager the power to impose curfews. That power will remain with Mayor Mike Elliott.
The city council also debated re-allocating more than $1 million from the police department toward policing reforms.