Jury selection moved forward Thursday in the trial of a Brooklyn Center police officer charged in Daunte Wright’s shooting death, with a 10th juror seated ahead of opening statements next week.
Kim Potter, 49, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 shooting of Wright, a 20-year-old Black motorist, following a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.
Potter, who is white, has said she meant to use her Taser on Wright after he pulled away from officers while they were trying to arrest him, but that she drew her handgun by mistake.
The 10th juror is a man who said he once wanted to become a police officer and participated in a police explorer program in high school but then changed his mind because he was afraid he “would end up having to use my gun.” He has worked in information technology for the last 20 years.
He said he had a somewhat negative impression of Potter and that she should have had enough “muscle memory” to know which side of her body her Taser was on.
Before his addition, the partial jury was two-thirds white, according to information provided by the court. One juror is Black and two identified as Asian. The court is only providing the race of the jurors at the end of each day’s proceedings. The 10th juror’s addition evenly split the panel by sex.
Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday, though Judge Regina Chu said they could be moved up. Fourteen jurors — 12 to deliberate plus two alternates — are needed.
Attorneys and the judge have probed potential jurors for what they knew about Wright’s death and about their views of protests against police brutality that were frequent in Minneapolis even before George Floyd’s death.
Each side has a limited number of peremptory strikes that can be used without requiring a reason. Prosecutor Matthew Frank on Wednesday used up his last two strikes, including one to dismiss a woman who described her fears about violence in Minneapolis, expressed trust in the police and said officers shouldn’t be second-guessed.
Frank also used a strike to dismiss a man who said he was a hunter, gun owner and Fox News viewer, and that he hasn’t seen any evidence that police treat white and Black people differently.
Potter, who resigned two days after she shot and killed Wright, has told the court she will testify. Body-camera video recorded the shooting, with Potter heard saying, “Taser, Taser Taser” before she fired, followed by, “I grabbed the wrong (expletive) gun.”
Wright was shot in Brooklyn Center as former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin was standing trial 10 miles (16 kilometers) away for killing Floyd. Wright’s death sparked several nights of intense protests in the suburb.
Jurors’ names are being withheld and they are not shown on the livestream of the trial.
The most serious charge against Potter requires prosecutors to prove recklessness; the lesser only requires them to prove culpable negligence. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of just over seven years on the first-degree manslaughter count and four years on the second-degree one. Prosecutors have said they would seek a longer sentence.
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