Prosecutor: Potter ‘failed’ Wright; defense calls it mistake
Jurors at the trial of the former suburban Minneapolis police officer who killed Black motorist Daunte Wright are hearing starkly different versions of events.
Opening statements took place Wednesday in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter, who faces two counts of manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright in April.
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge told jurors that Kim Potter violated her training and "betrayed a 20-year-old kid." She said the fundamental duty of a police officer is to protect the sanctity of life.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Paul Engh told jurors that all Wright had to do that day was surrender to police. Engh said Potter made a mistake when she pulled her handgun instead of her Taser but that she "did what she had to do" to protect a fellow officer.
The prosecution says the former suburban Minneapolis officer had undergone extensive training that warned about such a mix-up. Potter has told the court she will testify at the trial.
WATCH: Court proceedings live.
The fourteen jurors are split evenly between men and women and are predominantly white.
Experts say video of the shooting will play a key role in deciding the case. The Brooklyn Center Police Department released the video the day after the incident. According to law experts, it’s one of the most important pieces of evidence in this trial.
Attorneys not affiliated with the case point out jurors could have several different takes from seeing the same video, adding the video cannot stand alone.
Potter also told Judge Regina Chu last week that she plans to take the stand.
The jury will have to wait to hear from Potter until the defense presents its case, which happens after the state presents its case.
Mark Osler, a University of St. Thomas law professor, said Potter could be difficult to cross-examine.
"She is going to be in some ways a difficult witness to cross-examine," Osler said. "Police officers are trained to testify. They spend time explaining things, they usually have spent a lot of time in court on cases, and so they are experienced witnesses and that, of course, makes them more difficult to cross-examine."
Experts say the defense is expected to argue the incident was all a mistake and that the big question in this case for witnesses and jurors is how a mistake could be made when the Taser is on one side and the gun is on the opposite side of Potter’s belt.
Potter faces first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter charges in connection with Wright’s death.