Kim Potter Trial: Opening Statements Begin Wednesday

The trial of the ex-cop who shot Daunte Wright begins today in earnest, as opening statements will be heard this morning in Hennepin County district court in Minneapolis.

Kim Potter claims she “accidentally” shot Wright when she reached for her gun instead of her taser during a botched traffic stop and her defense in the high-profile trial is expected to rely heavily on Wright trying to flee when she was killed. did that.

Potter, who had been a police officer for 26 years before resigning, has been charged on two counts; first degree manslaughter based on reckless use/handling of a firearm and second degree manslaughter.

The opening statements will begin Wednesday in the trial of Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter, 50, (pictured during jury selection last week), who is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 death of Daunte Wright.

The opening statements will begin Wednesday in the trial of Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter, 50, (pictured during jury selection last week), who is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 death of Daunte Wright.

Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force, claims she accidentally shot Daunte Wright when she reached for her gun instead of her taser during a botched traffic stop over his expired license plates in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, April

Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force, claims she accidentally shot Daunte Wright when she reached for her gun instead of her taser during a botched traffic stop over his expired license plates in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, April

Daunte Wright, 20, was arrested for hanging an air freshener from his rearview mirror and expired license plates

Daunte Wright, 20, was arrested for hanging an air freshener from his rearview mirror and expired license plates

Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police force, claims she accidentally shot Daunte Wright (right) when she reached for her gun instead of her taser during a botched traffic stop over his expired license plates in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota in April

The maximum penalty for the first count is 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine. The lowest number carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

The 49-year-old ex-cop shot Wright to death on April 11, 2021, when a traffic stop in the Brooklyn Center suburb of Minneapolis went catastrophically wrong.

She and Officer Anthony Luckey, for whom she was a Field Training Officer, left Wright because there was an air freshener on his rearview mirror (illegal in Minnesota) and expired records on his Buick.

A file check showed that the 20-year-old had an outstanding warrant for a serious gun violation and the arrest quickly turned into an arrest.

Potter is expected to testify at trial

Potter is expected to testify at trial

Potter is expected to testify at trial

Wright resisted and got back into the car he had been asked to get out of as officers tried to handcuff him.

In the confusion that followed, Potter drew her pistol and threatened to taser Wright twice.

Then she yelled, “Taser! taser! Taser!’ and shot him in the chest. She claims she took out her gun by accident.

The prosecutor’s office has said it plans to push for an upward deviation from the sentence if she is found guilty.

Attorney General Keith Ellison has given two grounds for this request.

According to the AG, Potter’s actions endangered the safety of others when she shot at a car in which a passenger was present, near two other officers and while the car’s engine was running on a busy street.

Wright drove off after being shot and hit another car before coming to a stop.

Ellison has also stated that she abused her position of authority as a licensed police officer.

The defense has already faced a series of disappointments leading up to Wednesday’s openings, as Judge Regina Chu heard pre-trial motions on Monday.

She declined the defense’s request to introduce a photo of Wright holding a gun in front of a mirror to push back on a life testimony expected to come from his mother and father.

To back up their claim that it was an accident, defense lawyers have highlighted Potter's immediate response and later unseen body-camera images that show the officer repeatedly remorseful.  (Potter can be seen in an April 15 courtroom sketch)

To back up their claim that it was an accident, defense lawyers have highlighted Potter's immediate response and later unseen body-camera images that show the officer repeatedly remorseful.  (Potter can be seen in an April 15 courtroom sketch)

To back up their claim that it was an accident, defense lawyers have highlighted Potter’s immediate response and later unseen body-camera images that show the officer repeatedly remorseful. (Potter can be seen in an April 15 courtroom sketch)

Potter has said she wanted to use her taser on Wright after he tried to drive away from officers while they were trying to arrest him, but grabbed her gun instead.  Her body camera recorded the footage

Potter has said she wanted to use her taser on Wright after he tried to drive away from officers while they were trying to arrest him, but grabbed her gun instead.  Her body camera recorded the footage

Potter has said she wanted to use her taser on Wright after he tried to drive away from officers while they were trying to arrest him, but grabbed her gun instead. Her body camera recorded the footage

She also denied a defense offer to include in her jury instructions comments about Wright’s decision to flee, the fact that an officer does not need a warrant to make an arrest, or any suggestion that the jury is investigating its own actions. van Wright as having contributed to his death.

Judge Chu, however, allowed limited testimony to Potter’s character about her reputation for being peaceful and law-abiding.

The Wright shooting took place just ten miles from the Hennepin County courthouse where Potter’s trial will be heard.

It happened as disgraced Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd, causing days and nights of unrest as protesters clashed with law enforcement officers.

Now, with the process underway, the specter of violence and disorder has resurfaced.

The concrete barriers that flanked the courthouse during Floyd’s trials have been removed, but no one is taking any chances in Minneapolis today, and security around the court and jury remains tight.

The 18th floor where the case is being heard is closed to anyone without ID and/or directly involved in the trial and only two members of the press – a print and a broadcast pool reporter – are allowed to be in court every day.

The trial will be live streamed with strict restrictions on the cameras in the room. Witnesses under the age of 18 are not filmed, nor are members of the Potter or Wright family.

None of the jurors may be filmed and their identities will be closely guarded and released by court order only after the trial.

Eleven of the 14 sitting judges — including two deputies — are white, with one black and two Asian.

Daunte Wright's name appeared on a fence outside a heavily fortified Brooklyn Center Police Department on Tuesday on the eve of the trial.

Daunte Wright's name appeared on a fence outside a heavily fortified Brooklyn Center Police Department on Tuesday on the eve of the trial.

Daunte Wright’s name appeared on a fence outside a heavily fortified Brooklyn Center Police Department on Tuesday on the eve of the trial.

Wright's death sparked several nights of intense protests in suburban Minneapolis

Wright's death sparked several nights of intense protests in suburban Minneapolis

Wright’s death sparked several nights of intense protests in suburban Minneapolis

The ethnic mix, or lack thereof, has drawn comment, but is representative of Hennepin County’s demographics, which put it white at 74 percent, though the jury that sealed Chauvin’s fate in March was remarkably more diverse.

The state had requested full confiscation of the jurors during the trial. Instead, Judge Chu has ordered that they be partially secluded each day, meaning they will remain in the courthouse once they arrive in the morning and their lunch will be brought.

They will be completely secluded once deliberations begin, but electronic devices will be allowed to communicate with family provided they do not discuss the matter.

They are guarded all the time by members of the Hennepin County Sheriff Office.

A man has already been arrested and charged with trying to intimidate Judge Chu’s chairman last week.

Cortez Rice, 32, – an activist and friend of George Floyd’s who spoke at Chauvin’s trial – livestreamed himself to the front door of the judge’s apartment after following residents into the building on Nov. 6.

He has been charged with tampering with a bailiff – a felony. At the time of Rice’s raid, Judge Chu had ruled that cameras would not be allowed in the court.

Rice filmed herself at her door and said, “We’re hot on her heels. What does she think? We want cameras. People deserve to know.’

Standing on the doorstep of an apartment, he admitted, “I don’t know if this is her crib. I think this is her crib here. We have confirmation that this is her home here.

“Wait for the gang to get here.”

He yelled her name, demanded “transparency” and said, “We’d hate to see you kicked out of your apartment.” Rice denies trying to intimidate the judge.

And when Judge Chu subsequently reversed her warrant and allowed cameras access, she was quick to point out that her change of heart “was very emphatically not a reflexive response to recent protests at the judge’s chairman’s house.”

Instead, Judge Chu said the resurgence of Covid 19 and health concerns at the prospect of crowds gathering at the courthouse were the main drivers for the revised order she passed on Nov. 9.

She acknowledged that Potter had objected to the trial’s broadcasting, but concluded that it would not violate her right to a fair trial.

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