Day 2: Girlfriend says Daunte Wright was ‘just gasping’ after shooting
MINNEAPOLIS — The woman who was riding with Daunte Wright when he was pulled over by suburban Minneapolis police and fatally shot by an officer testified to the chaotic moments immediately afterward.
Wright’s girlfriend, Alayna Albrecht-Payton, told the court Thursday that she screamed at Wright but that he “wasn’t answering me and he was just gasping.” She said she grabbed whatever was in the car and put it on his chest, but that she didn’t know what to do.
Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter is on trial on manslaughter charges in the April killing of Wright. She has said she meant to use her Taser on him but mistakenly used her gun instead.
Potter, 49, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during an April 11 traffic stop.
Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, and the officer Anthony Luckey, who Potter was training on April 11, testified on Wednesday.
Court reconvened at 9:12 a.m. on Thursday with Albrecht-Payton to be the first witness of the day called by the state. She said she got to know Wright through Facebook about three weeks before April 11 and they were just starting to date. She was in the passenger’s seat of Wright’s car when he was stopped on April 11.
Her voice wavering, Albrecht-Payton described the events of April 11 for the jury. Explaining the traffic stop, she noted there was no gun or weapon of any kind in the car. She said she was "nervous and scared" during the interaction because she didn’t have a good past with police and said she could tell Wright was also nervous and scared. "He was really scared, like, I’ve never seen him like that before," Albrecht-Payton said.
Through tears, Albrecht-Payton said she didn’t remember much of the scuffle but after the gun fired she recalled the car moving forward and seeing another car coming at them and crashing. She described seeing Wright lying in the car, trying to press on his chest and being the only one trying to help him.
She also recalled answering the video call from Wright’s mother and described herself as "delirious" and just screaming that Wright had been shot. "No mom should have to see her son dead on the phone," Albrecht-Payton said, noting she was apologizing for that.
The state then played body camera video of Albrecht-Payton after she got out of the car, going to other Brooklyn Center police officers who put her purse and phone on the ground and handcuffed her. She was then taken to a hospital and treated for lip and ear lacerations, a concussion and a fractured jaw, which required surgery and had her jaw wired shut for about six weeks. She then described some of the long-term effects of her injuries that still affect her.
At 9:40 a.m., defense attorney Earl Gray took over questioning of Albrecht-Payton. She said she and Wright "were never really official(ly) (a couple)." She said she and Wright smoked marijuana after they woke up around 10 a.m. and before they went to Wright’s mother’s home on April 11. She said she didn’t feel it affected her at all or that it affected Wright. After Wright was shot, Albrecht-Payton said Wright’s hands were never on the car’s steering wheel and that he didn’t have to turn it on because it wasn’t off, so only his foot was on the accelerator. She explained that her father had past run-ins with police and negative experiences.
Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge, at 9:55 a.m., asked a few more questions of Albrecht-Payton, confirming what she’d testified. Gray objected to several of Eldridge’s questions, mostly surrounding whether the car was running or not after Wright was shot. Albrecht-Payton said she doesn’t remember the car ever being shut off but was unsure.
She was excused at 9:58 a.m.
The state’s next witness, 84-year-old Patricia Lundgren, was sworn in. She and her husband, Kenneth, were in the vehicle that crashed into Wright’s car after Wright was shot.
Lundgren explained to Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank and the jury that, on April 11, she saw Wright’s car traveling toward her as she was driving. At one point, Wright’s car then cut across the roadway in front of her and then crashed into the front of her car. She said she initially thought she’d missed Wright’s car "but then I was spinning around in the highway" and the air bags inflated. "I was surprised that no one was coming to help me," she said after the car had stopped, so she got out of the car. "I noticed no one was right around my car. It was strange," Lundgren recalled, adding that she went to help her husband.
Lundgren said she heard a police officer telling the person in Wright’s car to get out. After the crash, "I felt OK, really," she said, noting that her husband couldn’t open his door so she opened it for him. She then helped get him out of the car because the inflated air bags were making it difficult and he wasn’t sure where he was. She then saw an officer motioning for her to get behind the officer’s vehicle. Lundgren said they waited behind the officer’s squad "pretty long, actually," but she couldn’t recalled how long exactly that was. She added that medics did talk to them to make sure they were OK. After sitting in the ambulance for a bit, they were taken to the police station for about three hours, "and then they didn’t have time to talk to us, and, of course, we didn’t know why," Lundgren said. Eventually, they were taken home at about 6 p.m. The next day, they went to a hospital to get checked out.
Lundgren said her husband didn’t have any health issues before the crash but now is on hospice care. "He has lots of problems now," she said.
Gray took over questioning at 10:20 a.m. In her statement to police on April 13, she explained they were hit hard and would’ve died if they hadn’t been wearing seat belts in their Subaru. She also asked if Wright had insurance. Lundgren was then excused.
The jury was called back into the courtroom at 11:03 a.m. and the state called Kerry Blanski, who lives kitty-corner to where Wright’s vehicle crashed into Lundren’s.
On April 11, Blanski said she heard the crash and she and her husband saw a police officer standing with his gun drawn outside one of the cars so they stayed back and watched from their home. Security footage from their home caught a portion of the crash. Frank played the video in court for the jury. After the crash, Blanski said she and her husband were outside for the rest of the day, watching everything unfold. Blanski explained how a woman, who she assumed was Wright’s mother showed up and was visibly upset and others then showed up. After a few hours, Blanski and her husband brought a couple chairs and a blanket for them.
Blanski was then excused.
Brooklyn Center police officer Alan Salvosa started testifying at 11:20 a.m. with prosecutor Joshua Larson questioning him. He’s been an officer for nearly 12 years and is on the SWAT team and the West Metro Mobile Command Field Force.
He described his typical police duties and how officers do things, such as make a traffic stop and radio that in. He notes it’s normal for nearby officers to head close to an officer who is engaged in a stop. He’s been a field training officer for five or six years. He says a field training officer has less freedom and more to do on a given day, such as mentoring, training, paperwork and evaluating a trainee. He’s also received medical training for providing first aid, treating wounds, how to triage, and says those skills are used on an "almost daily" basis.
Salvosa says he’s known Potter since he started at the department. He says he’s engaged in radio communication with Potter in the past and can recognize her voice over the radio. On April 11, at around 2 p.m., Salvosa said he was grabbing lunch when he heard that officer Luckey had engaged in a traffic stop so Salvosa headed toward that location. Just before getting to the stop location, he saw Wright’s vehicle take off and collide with Lundgren’s right in front of him. Salvosa said he called the crash in, asked for an ambulance to respond and drew his gun and pointed it at Wright’s car and told the occupants to get out and then called for backup. He testified that he didn’t have any information about the medical status of anyone in Wright’s car. He also didn’t have any information that anyone in Wright’s vehicle was armed with any weapon. "I was confused," Salvosa said about not hearing any information about Wright’s vehicle and those inside it from Potter, Luckey and Sgt. Johnson. Salvosa said he saw some movement and ordered the occupants of Wright’s vehicle to put their hands up, eventually, the passenger rolled the window down and said she couldn’t because Wright had been shot.
Salvosa said he then relayed that the people in Wright’s car weren’t cooperating and one of them may have been shot. Salvosa said Wright was slumped back in his seat. After "a couple minutes" that "felt like forever," Salvosa said officers from multiple agencies responded. Salvosa said he briefed the responding officers that Wright’s vehicle had fled from a traffic stop and two people were in the vehicle. Eventually, Salvosa said Albrecht-Payton got out of the vehicle and was placed in a squad car. Salvosa and other officers couldn’t see into the vehicle well but eventually were able to get a better view. The group of five or six officers then got a shield and discussed how to safely approach Wright’s car. Salvosa said five to 10 minutes passed from when he responded to when the group of officers approached the vehicle. Salvosa grabbed his medical bag and prepared to help the group provide aid to Wright and says the group got Wright out of the vehicle and was providing first aid.
After taping off the perimeter, Salvosa learned Wright had been shot and was pronounced dead. He didn’t yet have any indication it was an officer who shot Wright. Then, Salvosa heard that Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, arrived at the scene. Salvosa said he talked to Wright’s parents for 10 to 15 minutes, learned it had been an officer-involved shooting and then was told he had to go back to the police department because he was a potential witness. After an officer escorted him to a quiet place in the station, Salvosa said he was there for a couple hours.
The state then plays the dash camera video from Salvosa’s squad as he arrived at the scene as well as his body camera video. The video shows Salvosa with his gun drawn repeatedly yelling for Wright and Albrecht-Payton to put their hands up while calling for ambulances and additional officers. He also relays that Albrecht-Payton said Wright wasn’t breathing. After about three minutes, a Brooklyn Park squad arrives and Salvosa explains there are two people in Wright’s vehicle and yells for Albrecht-Payton to get out of the car so they can help Wright. Albrecht-Payton gets out about a minute later and is escorted to the side.
Salvosa and the other officers try to make a plan and seem to think someone else is moving in the back in addition to Wright not breathing in the front. "We’ll deal with that when we deal with it."
After another minute or two, Salvosa explains that Wright is believed to be the only one in the vehicle. After another minute or two, a group of officers approaches Wright’s vehicle, Salvosa turns to other officers who seemed to have thought someone yelled "shots fired," and he says of Wright, "he’s probably not gonna make it." He then grabs his aid bag and runs it to the group of officers, who have Wright on the ground outside the car at this point and are starting to provide aid. Salvosa then tapes off the perimeter, talks to a paramedic to discuss patients and then explains what he knows about the crash to other law enforcement that has now arrived at the scene. Salvosa then learns Wright is pronounced dead and a white sheet is seen in the area where Wright was on the ground.
At 12:23 p.m., Gray takes over questioning Salvosa. Salvosa says he heard Luckey say he was making a traffic stop and Sgt. Johnson say he’d respond to assist before he decided to also head that way in case further assistance was needed. Salvosa said the crash did alarm him and that’s why he drew his gun and commanded the occupants of Wright’s vehicle to put up their hands, as he was trained to do. Gray points out the other officers were trying to save Wright’s life after they got him out of the vehicle and Salvosa confirms that. Gray then asks if Salvosa saw Wright move right when he got to the scene and he responds, "yes, sir." When the state asks him to clarify, Salvosa said Wright rocked back and forth slightly.
Salvosa is then excused and, at 12:32 p.m., Chu calls for an hour lunch break.
Following lunch, court reconvenes with Joshua Larson questioning Champlin police officer Daniel Irish, a 19-year law enforcement veteran. Irish goes through his duties as an officer and his past work, noting he’s on the West Metro Mobile Command Field Force, like Salvosa. He also explains the field training program in Champlin, which is similar to Brooklyn Center’s. He’s been a field training officer since 2007.
On April 11, Irish said he was around the Interstate 94/694 interchange when he heard a "shots fired" call from Brooklyn Center. He notes that’s an emergency call where he responds with lights and sirens to see how he can help, and that’s how he responded. When he arrived, he found a group of officers already working on a plan of action. Irish said officers had guns drawn and were trying to get a bunker to approach Wright’s car. He noted he didn’t see any action in the vehicle, didn’t know how many people were inside, if the occupants were armed or injured. Irish said he initially was on the passenger’s side but moved to the driver’s side when another officer called for more help. Irish then saw Wright slumped over and unresponsive.
Irish and another officer then dragged Wright 15 to 25 yards from the vehicle. After identifying Wright had a gunshot wound to the chest, Irish put a chest seal over Wright’s exit wound. However, he didn’t find a pulse. Someone then handed him an automated external defibrillator (AED), which indicated CPR was needed and performed by other officers. He confirmed that all followed police training. After paramedics arrived, they advised officers to continue with CPR and then checked for a heart rhythm. Before a Lucas CPR device was fully installed, paramedics stopped officers because Wright was already dead.
Irish said he then helped officers expand the crime scene but still didn’t know what had happened or if it was an officer-involved shooting at that point. He then took Salvosa to the police station and waited with him there until Irish was relieved.
Irish’s body camera video of Wright being extricated from the vehicle and officers providing aid was then shown in court. After Wright is declared dead, a first responder is heard asking if it’s an OIS (officer-involved shooting) and another responds, "I think so." After the video ends, a sidebar is called and Chu then informs the jury they’re taking a 20-minute afternoon break early. Chu then tells the attorneys for both sides to come to her chambers to discuss a matter.
Larson continued questioning Irish at 2:39 p.m. The state starts with some pictures from Irish’s body camera. The first shows Wright slumped over in the driver’s seat of the car. The next two are of authorities providing aid to Wright.
At 2:42 p.m., Engh takes over questioning Irish. Irish confirms he’s, in the past, worked for the Anoka-Hennepin Drug Task Force and met Potter’s husband, Jeff. That prompts another sidebar and Engh then continues after a minute. Irish confirms he’d arrested someone on a warrant before responding to Brooklyn Center on April 11. Irish confirms a bunker is a shield to stop bullets and protect officers. He also confirms Engh’s assertions that the tinted windows and overall situation seemed dangerous. Irish also confirms he did what he could to save Wright. He also confirmed a sergeant is a higher rank than a patrol officer and can take charge of situations.
At 2:53 p.m., Larson asks again about approaching the car. Irish confirms he didn’t know anything about the people in Wright’s vehicle and said he knew a gunshot had been fired at some point in the incident. Engh and Larson then each ask a couple more questions about the use of an AED before Irish is excused.
At 2:57 p.m., Brooklyn Center police officer Jeffrey Sommers is sworn in and Larson starts questioning him. He’s worked for Brooklyn Center since 2010 after two years in Anoka. He also retired from the Marines Corps this year after 29 years. He says he was assigned to the same shift as Potter for at least five years. He’s also known Sgt. Michael Johnson since he started in Brooklyn Center.
On April 11, Sommers said he was in the report writing room when he heard a "shots fired" call. He then ran to his squad and responded to the scene. While en route, he learned a vehicle had crashed and Salvosa had a vehicle at gunpoint. He arrived at the scene after three or four minutes. The state then played his body camera video. The first several minutes show Sommers holding Wright’s vehicle at gunpoint and officers trying to determine how many people are in the vehicle. After about four minutes, Salvosa says it’s just one left after Albrecht-Payton got out. They also are heard saying they don’t see any movement. It then shows the large group of officers around Wright’s car, them dragging him out and then providing aid. After six minutes, Larson pauses it and Sommers says there were a lot of unknowns and that’s why it took so long for officers to go up to Wright’s car. The video then resumes as aid is provided to Wright. After about two minutes, Chu interrupts for a sidebar. She then sustains the objection and says no more video needs to be shown.
Sommers then explains some of the life-saving measures they attempted, adding that paramedics pronounced Wright dead and he went with Salvosa to stay with Wright’s parents at the scene. Before talking to Wright’s parents, Sommers said he hadn’t received any information about what caused Wright’s death. Sommers said he stayed with Wright’s parents for around an hour. He then was tasked with scene security for several hours.
At 3:23 p.m., Sommers is excused and another sidebar is called.
After a four-minute sidebar, the state calls its next witness, North Memorial ambulance operation supervisor Michael Morelock with Eldridge taking over the questioning.
On April 11, he says North Memorial received the call as a shooting and then was told by dispatchers that three people at the scene had been shot. When he arrived, he saw several officers with guns drawn approaching Wright’s vehicle and then waited for clearance from officers to approach. He saw Albrecht-Payton escorted away and then was told about officers doing CPR on Wright and went there. He explains he checked Wright’s left and right sides of his neck for a pulse but didn’t find one. He also did some other basic assessments and noted Wright’s skin was dry and pale. The officers providing aid told Morelock that the AED recommended to not shock. Morelock said he noticed a gunshot wound on Wright’s body, an injury that could be consistent with death. Morelock passed that information to a paramedic team that then arrived and transferred the management of Wright to them so he could determine if other resources were needed. Morelock said he had trouble getting information initially about how many patients there were so he still had to figure that out.
Morelock explained their protocols and that they say if a patient doesn’t have a pulse when they arrive at the scene, it’s very difficult to resuscitate them.
After about six minutes of testimony, Morelock was excused and Chu called for another 15-minute break.
At 4:05 p.m., North Memorial paramedic Dustin Johnson is sworn in and Eldridge continues questioning. He was also an Army combat medic from 2007 to 2019.
He was one of the paramedics who responded to Brooklyn Center for a reported shooting with multiple victims on April 11. When they arrived at the scene, Johnson saw Morelock. He was eventually cleared by Morelock to come in closer to the scene. He then saw officers conducting CPR on Wright and grabbed his equipment needed to assist. When he came up to Wright, Johnson said he started setting up equipment and looked to see what condition Wright was in. He saw a chest seal on Wright’s gunshot wound and a tracheal deviation. He noted no pulse was ever detected. The penetrating chest trauma, lack of a pulse and no shockable rhythm for an AED led Johnson and his partner to "call it" and stop aid to Wright and get ready to provide aid to any other patients.
After a brief sidebar, Johnson said he and his partner then were directed to Albrecht-Payton, who was handcuffed in a squad car, crying and had blood coming from her ear. They then brought her to their ambulance and started bringing her to a hospital. The state displayed three pictures of Albrecht-Payton while Johnson explained this. One of her in the squad, one walking to the ambulance and one with her on the stretcher at the hospital.
At 4:21 p.m., Johnson is excused and Chu adjourns court for the day until 10 a.m. Friday.
After the jurors leave, Chu says she’s directed the state to eliminate any duplicate autopsy pictures and that any pictures of Wright with his eyes open would have to be cut off at the nose level so it doesn’t affect juror sympathy.
Engh then told Chu the defense is concerned with how the state is presenting its case, saying he didn’t see any evidence of guilt presented Thursday and he moves for a mistrial. Frank responds that the state is showing Potter’s conduct caused danger to a number of people so Thursday’s witness testimony was relevant. Frank adds that Potter had to be aware she was shooting Wright while he was in a position to drive a vehicle.
"Alright, we’re really getting ahead of ourselves now," Chu says, denying the defense’s request for a mistrial. She then adjourns for the day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.