Potter trial opens 2nd week with Wright autopsy details


CORRECTS TO BODY CAM OF BROOKLYN CENTER POLICE OFFICER JEFFREY SOMMERS, NOT CHAMPLIN POLICE OFFICER DANIEL IRISH – In this image taken from Brooklyn Center Police Officer Jeffrey Sommers’ police body cam video that was played during the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Minneapolis, police approach the car that Daunte Wright was driving after being shot during a traffic stop. Potter, who is white, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting of Wright, a Black motorist, in the suburb of Brooklyn Center. Potter has said she meant to use her Taser – but grabbed her handgun instead – after Wright tried to drive away as officers were trying to arrest him. (Court TV, via AP, Pool)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The trial of a Minnesota police officer charged in the shooting death of Daunte Wright opened its second week of testimony on Monday with an assistant medical examiner walking jurors through Wright’s autopsy.

Wright, 20, was killed on April 11 after being pulled over in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center for having expired license plate tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. The officer who shot him, Kim Potter, is charged with manslaughter.

Potter, a 26-year police veteran who resigned two days after the shooting, said she meant to draw her Taser to stop Wright after he pulled away and got back in his car as officers tried to arrest him on a warrant for a weapon charge. Potter, 49, is white and Wright was Black. His death, which came while Derek Chauvin was on trial in nearby Minneapolis in George Floyd’s death, set off several nights of angry protests in Brooklyn Center.

Dr. Lorren Jackson was the prosecution’s first witness on Monday. The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office reported the day after Wright’s death that he died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Prosecutors spent the first week of testimony showing jurors police video of the traffic stop, in which an officer in training, Anthony Luckey, took the lead under Potter’s guidance.

The video showed the critical moments where Wright pulled away as Luckey was on the verge of handcuffing him, followed by Potter shouting “I’ll tase you!” and “Taser, Taser, Taser!” and then shooting him once with her handgun.

Jurors saw Potter falling to the ground and wailing immediately afterward, with other officers attempting to console her.

The defense has called the shooting a horrific mistake, but has also asserted that Potter would have been within her rights to used deadly force on Wright because he might have dragged a third officer, then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson, with his car.

Johnson testified Friday that he was holding Wright’s right arm with both hands to try to handcuff him, but that he dropped Wright’s arm when he heard Potter shout. Video appeared to show Johnson’s hands still in the car when the shot was fired.

Prosecutors have argued that Potter had extensive Taser training that included multiple warnings about not confusing it with a handgun. One of them, Matthew Frank, noted that Johnson hadn’t drawn either his Taser or gun.

The trial also has included extensive testimony and video from officers who hurried to the scene after Wright’s car, moving away from the traffic stop, collided with an oncoming vehicle.

Prosecutors blamed Potter for not immediately radioing details of the shooting so that Wright might have gotten medical aid more quickly; it took about 8 1/2 minutes before officers, uncertain of what they were dealing with, pulled him from his crashed vehicle.

Defense attorney Paul Engh complained that prosecutors were showing too much video that had nothing to do with the shooting of Wright, and requested a mistrial. But prosecutors are seeking an aggravated sentence if they win conviction and have to show that Potter’s actions endangered others. Judge Regina Chu dismissed the request.

The case is being heard by a mostly white jury.

State sentencing guidelines call for just over seven years in prison upon conviction of first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree, though prosecutors have said they plan to push for even longer sentences.

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