At contented is whether Ms. Potter, a erstwhile constabulary officer, was criminally reckless erstwhile she fired a gunshot into Mr. Wright’s thorax portion seeming to deliberation she was holding her Taser.
Published Dec. 20, 2021Updated Dec. 21, 2021, 12:11 a.m. ET
MINNEAPOLIS — Twelve jurors began weighing manslaughter charges connected Monday against Kimberly Potter, who fatally changeable a antheral during a postulation halt successful a Minneapolis suburb portion seeming to deliberation she was utilizing her Taser.
They began deliberating aft proceeding closing arguments from prosecutors and from lawyers for Ms. Potter, a achromatic serviceman who resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department aft sidesplitting Mr. Wright, a Black antheral who had been driving to a carwash.
The jurors discussed the lawsuit for astir 5 hours without reaching a verdict. They volition beryllium sequestered until they determine the case, apt staying successful a edifice and returning to the courthouse successful Minneapolis connected Tuesday to proceed deliberations.
In closing arguments, Earl Gray, Ms. Potter’s pb lawyer, said his lawsuit should not beryllium sent to prison for a shooting that prosecutors concede was a mistake. He argued that Mr. Wright had “caused his ain death” by trying to fly from the police.
“This woman present made a mistake, and my gosh, a mistake is not a crime,” Mr. Gray said, motioning toward Ms. Potter.
Erin Eldridge, a prosecutor, told jurors that they should find Ms. Potter blameworthy of the 2 charges she faces — first-degree and second-degree manslaughter — because she acted recklessly and violated her grooming by mixing up her Taser and her gun, costing Mr. Wright, 20, his life.
“Accidents tin inactive beryllium crimes,” Ms. Eldridge said. She added, “This was a colossal screw-up, a blunder of epic proportions.”
If the assemblage convicts Ms. Potter connected either manslaughter count, a justice would astir apt condemnation her to astatine slightest respective years successful prison, and perchance a decennary oregon longer.
Before closing arguments connected Monday, Judge Regina Chu work instructions to the assemblage connected the 2 charges. Parts of the instructions that woody with Ms. Potter’s cognition of what she was doing could beryllium important successful the lawsuit due to the fact that prosecutors and defence lawyers differed sharply successful their closing arguments implicit whether her mistake amounted to a crime.
Judge Chu said that successful bid to convict Ms. Potter of first-degree manslaughter, jurors would person to find that she had committed “a conscious oregon intentional act” regarding her handling of a weapon that created a hazard that she was alert of and disregarded. To convict connected second-degree manslaughter, the justice said jurors had to find that Ms. Potter had consciously taken a accidental of causing large bodily harm.
Nine of the jurors deciding the lawsuit are white, 2 are Asian and 1 is Black. The assemblage is evenly divided betwixt men and women, and their ages scope from the 20s to the 60s.
The jurors began discussing the lawsuit conscionable earlier 1 p.m. Central clip connected Monday, aft proceeding grounds from 33 witnesses over astir 2 weeks.
The last witnesser was Ms. Potter, 49, who broke down successful sobs respective times connected the witnesser basal arsenic she described the moments earlier the shooting. She said she had seen fearfulness successful different officer’s look and had ne'er meant to wounded anyone. “I’m atrocious it happened,” she said. “I’m truthful sorry.”
Understand the Killing of Daunte Wright
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Ms. Potter was grooming a rookie officer, Anthony Luckey, connected April 11 erstwhile Officer Luckey decided to propulsion implicit Mr. Wright’s car aft seeing an aerial freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, which is against the instrumentality successful Minnesota and galore different states. He besides noted that the car’s registration sticker was expired.
When the officers ran Mr. Wright’s sanction done their computer, they discovered that a justice had precocious issued an apprehension warrant for Mr. Wright aft helium missed a tribunal day related to charges that helium had illegally carried a pistol and had tally distant from Minneapolis constabulary officers successful June 2020.
On the roadside successful Brooklyn Center, the officers asked Mr. Wright to measurement retired of his car. But erstwhile Officer Luckey went to handcuff him, Mr. Wright pulled distant and got backmost into the driver’s seat, wherever helium struggled with Officer Luckey and a sergeant who had been called to the scene.
Police assemblage cameras recorded Ms. Potter shouting “Taser! Taser! Taser!” instantly earlier firing a fatal slug from her Glock handgun. Mr. Wright, mortally wounded, said “ah, helium changeable me,” and his car lurched forward, crashing into an oncoming car a abbreviated mode down the block. He was pronounced dormant astatine the scene. In the videos, Ms. Potter is heard saying that she had drawn the incorrect limb and is seen collapsing to the ground. “What person I done?” she asks astatine 1 point.
The sidesplitting of Mr. Wright, a begetter who had precocious been moving astatine a footwear store, happened portion the proceedings of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis serviceman who was aboriginal convicted of murdering George Floyd, was successful progress. It acceptable disconnected respective nights of aggravated protests successful Brooklyn Center, during which the constabulary arrested hundreds of people.
Criminal charges against constabulary officers who termination portion connected work stay rare, and convictions adjacent much so.
Instances of “weapons confusion” person besides been rare. Even so, successful the past 2 decades, at slightest 3 officers person been convicted successful cases wherever they said they had confused a weapon with a Taser, including 2 cases successful which the idiosyncratic they changeable died.