Daunte Wright’s Death: Potter Trial Jury Sees Difference Between Guns, Taser

MINNEAPOLIS – Prosecutors in the manslaughter trial of a Minnesota police officer put the difference between her shotgun and Taser on display for jurors, seeking to question her how an experienced officer could have confused the two weapons in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.

Wright, 20, was killed April 11 after being hit by a car in the Minneapolis suburb of Downtown Brooklyn because of an expired license plate tag and an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. Kim Potter, 49, was charged with manslaughter.

Potter, a 26-year-old former cop who resigned two days later, was trying to stop Wright after he fled and got back into his car when officers tried to arrest him on warrant for armed robbery. gas. Potter is white and Wright is black. His death, which occurred while Derek Chauvin was on trial in nearby Minneapolis in the death of George Floyd, sparked several nights of angry protests in Downtown Brooklyn.

The defense argued that the shooting was a terrible mistake, but also asserted that Potter would have had the right to use deadly force against Wright because he might have dragged in another officer, then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson, with his car.

Sam McGinnis, a senior agent with the state’s Criminal Administration, testified on Monday that Potter’s holstered duty belt required an officer to perform deliberate actions to release a weapon. . The gun holster has a lever, while the Taser holster has a lever. McGinnis says the black pistol is also twice as heavy as the yellow Taser.

McGinnis testified that the Taser and the gun had different triggers, grips and safety mechanisms. The taser also had a laser light and pre-fire LED display, which he demonstrated to the judges, while the shotgun did not, he said.

McGinnis also testified that Potter did not perform a functional test on her Taser at the start of her shift. Although it is the policy of the Brooklyn Central Police Department that officers must do it, McGinnis admitted after the cross-examination that he did not check to see how widely the department’s officers were compliant.

Prosecutors had asked for jurors to handle a Taser, but Judge Regina Chu refused to allow it after Potter’s attorneys objected. Chu said jurors could do so during deliberation if they wanted to.

Earlier, on Monday, Dr. Lorren Jackson, an assistant medical examiner for Hennepin County, testified that Potter’s bullet inflicted injuries to Wright’s heart and lungs and that those causes did. death for him. He said a person can survive such injuries for only “seconds to minutes.”

After Wright was shot, his car drove away and seconds later collided with an oncoming vehicle. Jackson said that any injuries from the collision were minor in terms of what caused Wright’s death.

Last week, several officers testified that they were unable to immediately reach Wright’s vehicle after it crashed because they were unsure if it was safe to do so. Prosecutors criticized Potter for not immediately broadcasting what happened at the traffic stop.

Jackson testified that Wright had some cannabinoids, or THC and its metabolites, in his blood from smoking marijuana, but they were not a factor in his death. He said Wright’s blood levels of the THC metabolite were “at the top” of the numbers he’d seen, but still within the normal range for people who use marijuana.

The jurors were shown graphic images of Wright’s body at the scene, when the assistant medical examiner found the body on the ground, with some medical equipment still attached to the efforts. lifesaving force, and some dried blood from a gunshot wound.

They also saw autopsy photos, which Zhou restricted after Potter’s attorneys objected earlier in the trial. Wright’s mother, who was present for much of the testimony, was not present in court as the autopsy photos show.

The testimony was scheduled to resume Tuesday, and the state is expected to resolve its case by midweek.

Separately, prosecutors filed two proposals on Monday, including one designed to limit the opinions of non-expert witnesses. That comes after Johnson testified last week that Potter’s actions were permissible under state law. Johnson did not testify as an expert on police use of force.

Prosecutors also asked Chu for permission to question police officers about union membership. They wrote that Potter had roles within the union, including as president, which earned her co-workers more respect from her peers. They wanted to ask officers about it so jurors could assess any potential bias against Potter.

The case is being heard by a predominantly white jury.

State sentencing guidelines call for just over seven years in prison when convicted of first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree, though prosecutors have said they plan to push long sentences. than.


Associated Press writers, Mohamed Ibrahim of Minneapolis and Scott Bauer of Madison, Wisconsin, contributed to this report.


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