Jury begins deliberating cop’s case in Daunte Wright death
MINNEAPOLIS — The jury has begun deliberating in the manslaughter trial of the suburban Minneapolis police officer who killed Daunte Wright after she says she mistook her gun for her Taser during a traffic stop. They finished the first day of discussions without a verdict.
Kim Potter’s case went to the mostly white jury on Monday following closing arguments and instruction from Judge Regina Chu.
Potter, resigned from the Brooklyn Center police force after killing Wright, shot the 20-year-old as she and other officers were trying to arrest him on an outstanding warrant during an April traffic stop.
The prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments that the shooting was “entirely preventable.” Potter’s attorney said she made a mistake and it wasn’t a crime.
The judge says she won’t make jurors deliberate on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. They’ll return after the holiday if they haven’t reached a verdict by then.
The defense rested Friday after Potter testified she “didn’t want to hurt anybody” and that she was “sorry it happened.” Some legal experts said it appeared to be a missed opportunity for Potter to tell jurors how a mix-up might have occurred and what she was thinking — and that some jurors were likely waiting to hear just that.
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge told the court that Kim Potter acted recklessly. In her closing arguments, Eldridge told jurors Potter made a “blunder of epic proportions.” Eldridge told jurors that Potter killing Wright was “entirely preventable," and she cast the former police officer as an experienced veteran who made a series of bad choices.
“She drew a deadly weapon," Eldridge said. "She aimed it. She pointed it at Daunte Wright’s chest, and she fired.”
Kim Potter’s attorney Earl Gray, though, countered during closing arguments in Potter’s manslaughter trial that the former Brooklyn Center officer made an honest mistake by pulling her handgun instead of her Taser and that shooting Wright wasn’t a crime.
"In the walk of life, nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes," Gray said. "My gosh, a mistake is not a crime. It just isn’t in our freedom-loving country."
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge said during her summation that Wright’s death was "entirely preventable. Totally avoidable."
"She drew a deadly weapon," Eldridge said. "She aimed it. She pointed it at Daunte Wright’s chest, and she fired."
Gray argued that Wright "caused the whole incident" because he tried to flee from police during a traffic stop.
"Daunte Wright caused his own death, unfortunately," he asserted.
Potter mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her Taser because the traffic stop "was chaos," Gray said.