A prospective juror asked to try a white cop accused of the manslaughter of a black man asked to be excused because of a prior negative encounter with the officer she claims to have had.
The woman in the trial of white ex-cop Kimberly Potter told Judge Regina Chu she could not be impartial because of a close friend’s experience being ‘interrogated’ by the accused officer over her black boyfriend.
The young sounding woman said Potter became emotional explaining why she would not be suitable for the jury.
She told Judge Regina Chu her friend was traveling in a car where the driver ran a stop sign, hit another vehicle and continued without stopping.
Potter turned up at the friend’s apartment to ask her about the incident, the third day of jury selection in Minneapolis heard.
The woman said: ‘So while they are at the apartment, Detective Potter was there and speaking to my friend. And instead of interrogating her about the hit-and-run, she was interrogating her about her boyfriend, who was black.’
A total of 12 jurors were selected for the Kim Potter, 49 (left) manslaughter trial on Thursday after she had shot and killed driver Daunte Wright, 20, in April after she claimed she confused her Glock pistol for her Taser
‘He was not part of the situation. He was at his work,’ she said as she claimed her boyfriend was not in the car.
The jury selection for the manslaughter trial of ex-white cop Kim Potter resumed on Thursday – with one prospective member revealing
Of Potter’s line of questioning, she continued: ‘It was more interrogating her, why would you be with a guy like that? He is a bad influence for you.’
Judge Chu asked: ‘And she related to you that Officer Potter told her she shouldn’t be with her boyfriend because he was a bad influence, or because he was black?’
The woman replied: ‘Because he was black and because he was a bad influence. And that he would be a bad influence to her. I was not there but this is what she told me. I felt very bothered by it. I know her boyfriend, so to hear that it was just very bothersome.’
Potter, 49, appeared in court on Wednesday at the Hennepin Government Center
Potter was in court flanked by defense attorneys Earl Gray and Paul Engh as the woman recounted the story about her friend, who she said was mixed race but ‘looks white’.
Asked by Judge Chu if she could be a fair and impartial juror, she replied: ‘Not on this one’. The woman, who also told the judge that ‘the police murdered my uncle’ wasn’t chosen.
The end of the three-day selection saw twelve jurors picked at Hennepin Government Center, with two more still needed.
Former Minnesota cop Potter, 49, was charged with first and second degree manslaughter in April after she shot dead black driver Daunte Wright, 20, as she claimed she confused her Glock pistol for her Taser during a traffic stop.
She had pulled Wright over because he had an air freshener hanging from his car’s rearview mirror and for having expired license plate tags.
Two other officers at the scene had reported that Wright had resisted arrest after they had found a warrant on a gross-misdemeanor charge.
Potter’s lawyer Paul Engh also announced on Tuesday that she will be testifying at her own trial.
Jury selection will continue on Friday with opening statements scheduled for December 8.
A total of three jurors were selected on Thursday after five had been chosen on Wednesday with four on Tuesday.
The jury selection had began on Tuesday, the same day in which Potter was announced to be testifying at her own trial
Defense attorney Paul Engh questions a potential juror on Wednesday
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presided over the jury selection process
Potter was a former police officer at Brooklyn Center Police Department, near Minneapolis, before resigning after fatally shooting Wright on April 11. She claims Wright resisted arrest by trying to get back into the car and drive away and that she mistook her service weapon for her stun gun
Video footage captured the moment Wright had been shot at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Another juror, who had already been chosen, was also brought back after his identity had accidentally been revealed by Gray on a livestream on Tuesday.
The juror had been concerned after his name had been released but was reassured after Judge Chu ordered to stop the livestreams in order to protect their identities during the selection process.
He said: ‘My name is not as widespread as I originally thought. I don’t think it will conflict with my duty. I was originally just freaked out and scared. You all don’t know me, but I’m a very private person,’ according to KARE 11.
Despite the accidental reveal, the juror said he will continue to participate in the trial.
Gray said: ‘I’m the culprit who started the whole thing and I apologize. Sincerely apologize. I hope you won’t hold it against my client.’
Potter, who told the judge this week that she will testify in her trial, denies first degree and second degree manslaughter in the killing that was dramatically captured on police body cam. It happened in suburban Minneapolis as the Chauvin trial was going on. She faces 10 years in jail if convicted.
Wright’s shooting occurred only a few miles from the courthouse where Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted in April of murder in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, during an arrest in May 2020.
Floyd’s death sparked demonstrations in many US cities last year against police brutality and racism. Wright’s shooting triggered several nights of demonstrations in Brooklyn Center, with many viewing the incident as yet another example of police violence against Black Americans.
BLM protestors are seen standing on top of a police car after they were angered over Wright’s death
Wright’s shooting triggered several nights of demonstrations in Brooklyn Center, with many viewing the incident as yet another example of police violence against Black Americans
Minneapolis police officers stand in line as they are confronted by protestors after Potter had shot Wright
Potter was training officer Anthony Luckey when he pulled Wright over. When Luckey ran a records check, he found there was a warrant out for a weapons violation against Wright.
On body camera footage of the incident, Luckey can be seen trying to arrest Wright and put handcuffs on him, but Wright spun away and got back in the car.
Within seconds, Potter warned Wright repeatedly that she was going to use her stun gun. Potter drew her service weapon instead, however, and fired a single shot.
Realizing her mistake, Potter became hysterical and told Luckey and another officer at the scene she had grabbed the wrong weapon: ‘I shot him!’
On evidentiary matters, Chu ruled that Wright’s criminal record and allegations, including that he shot someone in the head, was a member of a street gang, assaulted and robbed a man in March and was subject to restraining orders, may only be admissible if Potter was aware of Wright’s prior conduct.
Potter can be heard on police body camera video shouting ‘I’ll tase you,’ while pointing her handgun at Wright. He was attempting to get back behind the steering wheel after struggling to get away from the grip of another officer. Potter then shot Wright in the chest.
Seconds after firing, Potter said she grabbed the wrong gun, adding, ‘I’m going to go to prison,’ according to an amended criminal complaint submitted to the court in September.
Wright’s family and their attorney was seen entering Hennepin County Government Center ahead of the jury selection, which was presided by Judge Regina Chu.
Jury selection is expected to take about a week.
Opening statements are slated to start on December 8. Hennepin County District Court Judge Regina Chu has ordered the jury fully sequestered once deliberations begin.
In Minnesota, the maximum sentences for first- and second-degree manslaughter are 15 years and 10 years, respectively.
For Potter to be found guilty on second-degree manslaughter charges, prosecutors will need to prove that she acted with ‘culpable negligence’ when she shot Wright. For her conviction on a first-degree manslaughter charge, they will need to prove that she acted ‘recklessly.’
For a conviction on the first-degree charge, a jury would have to find that Potter was aware of the risk of killing Wright and ‘made a conscious decision to act without regard’ to the risk, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu wrote.