MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The state called its final witnesses Wednesday including a use-of-force expert in the manslaughter trial of Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer accused of shooting and killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, but they did not rest their case.
Kim Potter, 49, is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Daunte Wright, a Black man, during a traffic stop on April 11. The defense claims the shooting was an accident, that Potter, who is white, mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her Taser when she fatally shot Wright. But, prosecutors say Potter was reckless and negligent and should go to prison.
The deadly shooting sparked days of protests outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
The defense is expected to get the case on Thursday. Potter’s defense team said the former officer will take the stand in her own defense.
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Daunte Wright's dad gives "spark of life" testimony
Daunte Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, provided "spark of life" testimony about his son and the impact of losing him so young.
Arbuey described Wright as a good big brother to his two younger sisters and a father to his son, Daunte Jr.
"To see him as a father, I was so happy for him because he was so happy. He was so happy about Junior," he said.
Arbuey shared stories about his and Daunte’s time working together at Famous Footwear, where he was his son’s boss.
"I miss him a lot. Every day." Arbuey said.
Arbuey's wife, Katie Bryant, testified last week. She was the first witness called by the state in the trial.
State's use of force expert testifies
The state called their national use of force and police policy expert, Seth Stoughton, to the stand on Wednesday. He is being paid to testify.
Stoughton, a former police officer turned associated law professor, was also an expert witness for the state during Derek Chauvin’s trial earlier this year for the murder of George Floyd.
Stoughton testified, over defense objections, that Potter’s use of deadly force was "excessive" and "inappropriate."
"A reasonable officer in Officer Potter’s position would not have concluded there was imminent threat of death or great bodily harm and thus that the use of bodily harm was excessive and was disproportionate to the threat presented," he said.
Stoughton concluded that whether it was a Taser or a gun, Potter’s use of force during the traffic stop was not justified and was unreasonable given the totality of the circumstances. He said Wright was only a flight risk and "Taser spread" would have risked "neuromuscular incapacitation" with Wright behind the wheel.
Judge rejects ‘bad behavior evidence
Judge Regina Chu on Wednesday rejected an attempt by Potter’s defense team to introduce prior evidence of incidents where Wright fled police during arrests. She ruled Potter did not know any of that at the time of the traffic stop, so the jurors will not hear about it, sticking with her previous ruling regarding "bad behavior evidence."
Sergeant: Officers can't be trained for every scenario
Court began on Wednesday with Sgt. Michael Peterson of the Brooklyn Center Police Department back on the stand for cross-examination. He testified about training officers the best they can to be ready for everything in the field, but acknowledged they cannot train for every scenario.
"We do not deal in absolutes because no incident in this world is ever forecasted," he said. "We give recommendations. We give officers as many hypotheticals as we can, but the world is constantly moving and evolving."
Police witnesses testify on Taser, use of force policies
Two higher ranking members of the Brooklyn Center police force testified Tuesday about Potter’s Taser training as well as department policies and protocols and the oath officers are sworn to uphold.
Prosecutors are trying to prove Potter was recklessly and criminally negligent when she allegedly fired her gun instead of her Taser, killing Wright.
On cross-examination, Potter’s attorney highlighted her right to use force.
Kim Potter trial jury
The following jurors have been seated on the jury:
- Juror No. 2: White man in his 50s. Works as an editor in neurology dealing with medical evidence. Testified that he has an unfavorable view of "Blue Lives Matter." Has always wanted to serve on a jury.
- Juror No. 6: White woman in her 60s. Retired special education teacher. She lost one of her four children two years ago to breast cancer.
- Juror No. 7: White man, 29 years old. Overnight operations manager at Target and bass guitar player in a local alternative rock band. Took a firearms safety class when he was a teenager.
- Juror No. 11: Asian woman in her 40s. Works in downtown Minneapolis and said she was concerned about the unrest following the killing of George Floyd.
- Juror No. 17: White woman in her 20s. Has little prior knowledge about the case or legal system.
- Juror No. 19: Black woman in her 30s. Mother of two and a teacher. Owns a gun with a permit and a Taser for personal protection.
- Juror No. 21: White man in his 40s. Father with previous experience serving on a jury.
- Juror No. 22: White man in his 60s. Registered nurse for over 25 years, currently studying to be nurse practitioner. Gun owner. He also manages properties.
- Juror No. 26: Asian woman in her 20s. She is in school and has finals and job interviews coming up, but said she was willing to serve if selected.
- Juror No. 40: White man in his 40s. Participated in the police explorers program in high school, but ultimately decided not to pursue a career in law enforcement because he was afraid of having to fire a gun.
- Juror No. 48: White woman in her 40s. Mother of 2 school-age children. Former IT project manager. Grew up on a farm outside Minnesota.
- Juror No. 55: White man in his 50s. Field engineer in cybersecurity. Navy veteran. Gun owner. Enjoys partaking in Renaissance "steel weapons fighting."
- Juror No. 57: White woman in her 70s. Mother with children in their 40s. She has served on two prior juries.
- Juror No. 58: White man in his 30s. Father of young child. Lives in Eden Prairie. He has a close friend who is a St. Paul police officer.