The erstwhile Minnesota constabulary serviceman testified astatine her manslaughter proceedings connected Friday, saying she had ne'er fired her Taser oregon weapon earlier she accidentally changeable Mr. Wright during a postulation stop.
Dec. 17, 2021Updated 6:36 p.m. ET
MINNEAPOLIS — Testifying successful beforehand of the jurors who volition determine her fate, Kimberly Potter broke down connected Friday arsenic she watched assemblage camera video that captured her fatal shooting of a 20-year-old Black antheral during an brushwood that began with a postulation halt implicit an aerial freshener.
The shooting of Daunte Wright, she said, was the lone clip she had ever fired her weapon successful 26 years of policing successful Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb. And, Ms. Potter said, it had been a mistake. She had meant to stun Mr. Wright with her Taser, a limb she said she had besides ne'er utilized successful the field.
Ms. Potter, who is white, shook her caput and tightly closed her eyes arsenic a authoritative played a video of her shouting “I’ll Tase you!” and “Taser! Taser! Taser!” earlier firing a azygous slug into Mr. Wright’s chest.
“I’m atrocious it happened,” Ms. Potter testified done tears. “I didn’t privation to wounded anybody.”
It was the archetypal nationalist relationship by Ms. Potter of the mistake she said she made connected the broadside of a roadworthy that day, which outgo Mr. Wright his beingness and led prosecutors to record 2 manslaughter charges that could nonstop her to situation for years. And it was different emotionally charged infinitesimal successful the nation’s long, anguished past of arguable killings by constabulary officers, peculiarly of Black men.
Ms. Potter, who resigned 2 days aft the shooting, testified connected Friday arsenic the past of 33 witnesses whom jurors person heard from during the trial. The assemblage volition statesman to deliberate connected Monday aft lawyers for each broadside marque closing arguments.
The lawsuit is simply a uncommon illustration of a constabulary serviceman being charged for sidesplitting idiosyncratic portion on-duty, made adjacent much uncommon due to the fact that the prosecution and defence hold that this shooting was an accident. Two-thirds of the astir 15 constabulary officers who claimed to mistake their guns for their Tasers implicit the past 2 decades were ne'er charged.
But the shooting of Mr. Wright, which caused a week of volatile protests, received heightened scrutiny successful portion due to the fact that it came during the proceedings of Derek Chauvin, the erstwhile Minneapolis constabulary serviceman aboriginal convicted of murdering George Floyd.
Over 8 days of testimony, jurors person watched a bid of videos and heard from much than a twelve constabulary officers, arsenic good arsenic a psychologist, Mr. Wright’s parents and Ms. Potter’s friends and colleagues. Many of them differed sharply connected whether Ms. Potter had erred successful trying to halt Mr. Wright from fleeing aft a constabulary serviceman tried to apprehension him connected a warrant for missing a tribunal day connected a weapon charge.
On the stand, Ms. Potter, 49, said she astir apt would not person pulled Mr. Wright’s car implicit had she been riding alone. But she was grooming a rookie officer, Anthony Luckey, who stopped Mr. Wright’s car aft helium noticed an aerial freshener hanging from the rearview mirror and saw that the car’s registration was expired. The aerial freshener, Ms. Potter testified, was a insignificant violation, and officers had mostly stopped ticketing radical for expired registrations due to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic had made it hard for radical to get caller ones.
Asked astir the time of the shooting, she said that “so overmuch of it is missing” from her memory.
“I retrieve yelling ‘Taser! Taser! Taser!’ and thing happened, and past helium told maine I changeable him,” Ms. Potter said.
Ms. Potter said she recalled being enactment successful an ambulance and taken to the constabulary station. There, she was met by her husband, Jeff Potter, a retired constabulary serviceman who sat successful the courtroom during her testimony, which lasted for astir an hr and 55 minutes. Also successful the courtroom were Mr. Wright’s parents; his mother, Katie Bryant, sobbed arsenic Ms. Potter apologized from the stand.
When Ms. Potter was cross-examined by a authoritative successful the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, she and the jurors were shown side-by-side photographs of Ms. Potter’s weapon and her Taser. The Taser is larger and mostly agleam yellow, with a achromatic handle. The gun, a Glock, is wholly black.
“These items look different, don’t they?” asked the prosecutor, Erin Eldridge.
“Yes,” Ms. Potter replied.
In a statement, lawyers representing Mr. Wright’s household said Ms. Potter’s grounds had again shown that his decease was preventable. “As the defence rests and we look up to assemblage deliberations and a verdict, we indispensable not hide that Daunte’s parents, his extended household and his kid are facing different vacation without him,” said the lawyers, Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms.
Understand the Killing of Daunte Wright
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Prosecutors person tried to physique a lawsuit that Ms. Potter was truthful reckless, peculiarly fixed her grooming and experience, that she should beryllium imprisoned for a deadly mistake that near grieving parents and Mr. Wright’s young child, Daunte Jr., present 2, successful its wake. They reason that Ms. Potter’s effort to usage the Taser was itself a usurpation of section argumentation that advises officers to not stun radical who are driving a car, and they said she had received extended grooming connected safely utilizing her Taser.
But defence lawyers elicited grounds from a bid of witnesses — including immoderate who were called by prosecutors — that bolstered their case. Several constabulary officers and a defence adept testified that Ms. Potter had not lone been close to effort to usage her Taser, but was besides justified successful firing her weapon — adjacent if she had done truthful intentionally — due to the fact that different serviceman was leaning into Mr. Wright’s car done the rider door. That officer, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, testified that helium could person been killed had Mr. Wright driven off, and respective different officers agreed during the trial, including the constabulary main astatine the clip who said helium was forced to resign due to the fact that helium refused to instantly occurrence Ms. Potter.
Ms. Potter testified connected Friday that she saw Sergeant Johnson leaning into the car and that helium had “a look of fearfulness connected his look — it’s thing I’ve seen before.” Prosecutors contend that lone Sergeant Johnson’s hands were successful the car astatine the clip of the shooting, and that Ms. Potter did not person a bully presumption of him anyway.
Just earlier the shooting, the constabulary had asked Mr. Wright to measurement retired of his car. He did, and erstwhile an serviceman tried to handcuff him due to the fact that of the warrant, Mr. Wright pulled distant from the officer’s grip and got backmost into the driver’s seat.
Body camera and constabulary dash camera videos that were played for the archetypal clip astatine proceedings showed a distraught Ms. Potter collapsing to the broadside of the roadworthy aft the shooting, sobbing and telling her chap officers that she had “grabbed the incorrect gun,” adding an expletive.
“I’m going to spell to prison,” she said astatine 1 point, aboriginal adding to Sergeant Johnson, “Just fto maine termination myself.”
Several minutes later, Sergeant Johnson took a weapon from her holster and surreptitiously emptied it of ammunition earlier returning it to her, fearing that she mightiness sprout herself.
Tim Arango contributed reporting.