Jury selection resumes for officer who killed Daunte Wright

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jury selection resumed Thursday in the trial of a suburban Minneapolis police officer charged in Daunte Wright’s shooting death, with five more people needed to complete the panel ahead of opening statements next week.

Nine people were seated during the first two days of jury selection in the trial of Kim Potter, 49, who 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 but that she drew her handgun by mistake.

Heading into Thursday, the jury was two-thirds white, according to information provided by the court. One juror is Black and two identified themselves as Asian. Five are women and four are men.

The five jurors seated Wednesday included a woman who said she owns a stun gun. She was asked whether she could set aside what she knows about her own device — one she said she has never used — and she said she could.

She went on to say that she strongly disagrees that police officers should not be second-guessed for their decisions.

“This is a servitude job, and when you get into this position, you need to understand that it’s a tough job and so you have to maintain that level of professionalism when you get into that position,” she said.

Also seated was a woman who said she thought protests against police in the Minneapolis area have had a negative effect because of the property damage some have caused. She also said she somewhat disagrees with the idea of defunding the police, saying, “You’re always going to need police officers.”

A man chosen for the jury said in his questionnaire that he had “somewhat negative” impressions of both Potter and Wright. Asked why about Wright, he said, “I don’t condone fleeing from a police officer.” About Potter, he said, “When training fellow officers your actions should be more thought out.”

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.

On Tuesday — the first day of jury selection — an attorney for Potter said jurors would hear directly from the former officer, who resigned two days after she shot and killed Wright. 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 were being withheld and were 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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Find the AP’s full coverage of the Daunte Wright case: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-daunte-wright