MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jury selection in the Kim Potter trial is moving at a quick pace as five more jurors were seated Wednesday, bringing the total number selected so far to nine. Five more jurors still need to seated as the court is seeking 12 jurors to deliberate the case and two more to serve as alternates.
Judge Regina Chu is hoping to hear opening statements in a week, perhaps earlier. If jury selection continues as it has the last two days, the jury might be seated as soon as Thursday.
Potter, a former Brooklyn Center police officer, is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright during an April traffic stop in the north Minneapolis suburb. The city’s police chief at the time said that Potter believed she was holding her Taser when she fired on Wright. The 20-year-old died at the scene.
Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force and a former training officer, plans to testify in her own defense, her attorneys told the court Tuesday. Potter reiterated before the court Wednesday morning that she wants to take the stand, although the judge told her that she was free to change her mind as the trial proceeds.
So far, the jury is made up of five women and four men; at least three are white and one is Asian. The court has yet to release demographic information for the jurors selected Wednesday, which included:
— a college student who said she worked at a Twin Cities business damaged by the unrest following George Floyd’s murder
— a man who had served on a jury once before in a case regarding protesters trespassing
— a person whose spouse once worked in the Hennepin County public defender’s office
— a person who disagreed with the idea of defunding the police
— and a parent who that said they had a “somewhat negative” impression of both Potter and Wright.
The day before, the court selected a white man in his 50s who edited a medical journal, a retired white woman in her 60s who worked as a special education teacher, a white man in his late 20s who spent years touring with a rock band, and an Asian woman in her 40s who described herself as a “rule-follower.”
Two of jurors questioned Wednesday were excused for cause. One did not speak English as a first language and another was pregnant and experiencing nausea and vomiting on a daily basis.
The state also used its last two peremptory strikes, removing two gun owners from the pool: one was a woman who had a “very unfavorable” view of Black Lives Matter, and the other was a man who strongly opposed defunding the police.
Unlike Tuesday, no identifying information on the jurors was said in open court. On the first day of jury selection, a defense attorney said the last names of two jurors who were later selected for the trial. One of them expressed frustration to the judge that people could now figure out who they were.
Jury selection is expected to resume Thursday morning. The lawyers were told to be in court at 8:30 a.m.
UPDATE (4:41 p.m.): Jury selection in the Kim Potter trial is done for the day. The process will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Before jury selection ended Wednesday afternoon, the state used its last peremptory strike against potential juror No. 32.
In her questionnaire, the potential juror wrote that she has a “very unfavorable” view of Black Lives Matter, telling the court that thinks some protesters “go too far.” She also expressed concern about being in Minneapolis “because of all the violence.”
No. 32 was in the Army in the early ’80s and recently worked security for a church. She told the court that she’s a gun owner.
Also in her questionnaire, No. 32 said that she “strongly agreed” that police make her feel safe. Additionally, she reported that she trusts police and doesn’t think it’s good to question officers’ decisions in stressful situations given the intensity of their jobs.
UPDATE (4:05 p.m.): The defense motioned to strike potential juror No. 30 for cause, and the judge granted it. She will not be serving in the Kim Potter trial.
The potential juror told the court that she is pregnant and experiences nausea and vomiting on a daily basis.
“We can’t be stopping the trial for a day while she is in the hospital needing medical attention,” the judge said after excusing No. 30 from duty.
No. 30’s baby is due in February.
UPDATE (3 p.m.): The state uses a peremptory strike against potential juror No. 28, who will not be serving in the Kim Potter trial. This was the second time that the state has used a peremptory strike, leaving them with one left.
No. 28 told the court that he works as a procurement officer and is currently dealing with extraordinary supply chain issues. The state questioned whether or not the potential juror would be able to commit to the case without distractions from work.
In the questionnaire, No. 28 wrote that he strongly disagrees with defunding the police and that he is inclined to trust police officers.
When asked by the defense if he would be able to judge the actions of a police officer like anyone else, No. 28 said that he could.
No. 28 told the court that he was a life-long hunter and gun owner.
UPDATE (2:37 p.m.): Juror No. 26 is seated in the Kim Potter trial. She becomes the fifth juror selected so far Wednesday, bringing the total seated to nine. Five more jurors are needed for the trial, as 12 will deliberate the case and two will serve as alternates.
Juror No. 26 is a college student who works at a place in the Twin Cities that was damaged during the unrest following George Floyd’s murder. When questioned by the judge, the juror said that she felt at least some of the rioting was not really connected to social justice concerns.
No. 26 said that she has many friends and family that are opinionated about the Daunte Wright case. “I have a lot of those influences around me,” she said. The juror noted that one of her brothers served in the Marine Corps.
In her questionnaire, the juror wrote similar language about both Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. When questioned by the state, she said both groups are vehicles for people to express their opinions.
No. 26 expressed concerns that jury duty would affect her up-coming finals and job interviews. She also expressed concern over the high-profile nature of the case, describing herself as a “private person.”
UPDATE (2:20 p.m.): Potential juror No. 25 is excused by the judge for cause. She will not serve in the trial of Kim Potter.
When being questioned by the defense, No. 25 said that she was biased toward people who have been shot by police. Earlier, she told the court that she had a “somewhat negative” view of Potter.
UPDATE (11:50 a.m.): An eighth person has been seated on the jury, making a total of four jurors added prior to Wednesday’s lunch break. That brings the total number of jurors seated to eight, with six more being sought, including the two alternates.
Juror No. 22 was selected after saying they “somewhat agree” that it’s not right to second-guess the decisions of law enforcement officers while on duty. “I certainly expect them to be law-abiding, and they have difficult decisions to make, too, at times.”
The judge questioned No. 22 about their spouse’s work in the Hennepin County public defender’s office, which occurred 35 to 40 years ago. The juror said they can remain fair and impartial.
UPDATE (11:20 a.m.): A man who has served on a jury once before is now seated as the seventh juror in the Kim Potter trial. Juror No. 21 was questioned about his views on policing.
He also said that he experienced an incident once where police came to his home to arrest someone who had entered without permission and seated themselves on the couch. No. 21 said that there was likely alcohol, drugs and/or mental illness involved.
No. 21 previously served on a jury in a case regarding protesters trespassing, and also has a brother-in-law who is a special agent with the Department of Commerce.
UPDATE (10:40 a.m.): The defense used a peremptory strike to remove potential juror No. 20 from the pool.
The juror indicated they had a somewhat negative view of Kim Potter, but said they could give her the presumption of innocence. They said Potter made a “very dumb mistake.”
Defense attorney Earl Gray questioned No. 20 strongly about his views on law enforcement. The potential juror said “I don’t know” when asked if they trust police, and said interactions with police officers “in general make me nervous.”
UPDATE (9:52 a.m.): The Kim Potter trial has its sixth juror.
The juror, a parent, said they had a somewhat negative impression of both Potter and Daunte Wright.
They also said they had seen video of Wright’s death four or five times on the news, and that they “strongly disagree” that it’s not right to second-guess the actions of law enforcement officers.
UPDATE (9:12 a.m.): A fifth juror has been seated in the trial for Kim Potter.
The potential juror said they disagreed with the idea of “defunding the police.”
“You’re always going to need police,” they said.
UPDATE (9 a.m.): Jury selection has resumed in the Kim Potter trial, with potential juror No. 17 being questioned.
Judge Regina Chu began the day with procedural items, including letting Potter know that if she should change her mind about testifying, she may do so.
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jury selection resumes in the Kim Potter trial Wednesday morning.
Four jurors were seated Tuesday. Ten more — for a total of 12 jurors and two alternates — still need to be selected.
Potter is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter after fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April. Potter said she thought she was using her Taser but instead fired her gun.
Defense attorney Paul Engh said Tuesday Potter will testify during her trial.
According to the court, three of the seated jurors are white. Two of them are men, and two are women. One of the women is Asian.
Outside the courthouse Tuesday, protesters were in the streets, near a memorial to Wright on the courthouse lawn. A car drove through the crowd, and some protesters tried to stop the driver by getting on the vehicle and running after it.
A woman who was crying said the car hit her, but no one was seriously hurt. WCCO has reached out to Minneapolis police about the incident.