MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - After three days of jury selection, 12 jurors have been seated in the trial of Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.
As of Thursday evening, the jury is made up of 12 jurors--six women and six men. Questioning of potential alternate jurors will take place Friday. Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu wants 12 jurors and two alternates before opening statements, which are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
Potter, who is white, is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop on April 11. The defense claims the shooting was an accident, that Potter 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.
Potter’s defense team said the 49-year-old former officer will take the stand in her own defense, although Judge Chu stressed Wednesday that Potter can change her mind. She may request instructions be read to the jury explaining it is her right not to testify and it should not be held against her if that is what she chooses.
12 jurors seated
All 12 jurors have been seated in the trial as of Thursday late afternoon. Jury selection is expected to wrap up Friday after two alternate jurors are seated.
The first juror seated on Wednesday, Juror No. 40, participated in his local Explorers program in high school, an organization and activity designed to introduce young people to law enforcement as a potential career. He said he ultimately decided being a police officer was not for him because he was afraid of having to use a gun. He said he wanted to be a teacher, but later settled on working on computers. He now works in IT as a consultant.
Juror No. 48 was the 11th juror seated in the case. She said she knows someone who works in law enforcement as an "investigator," but said it would not influence her ability to be impartial in the case. The defense questioned her over a protest she attended an ICE protest over the treatment of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The defense used their third peremptory strike on Juror No. 46, a first-year law student who has shared thoughts about police reform on social media. The defense can strike a total of five jurors without giving an explanation while the state was allowed three, all of which they have already used.
The state objected to the defense's peremptory strike, what's called a Batson challenge, believing the juror was removed due to her race, but the judge rejected their argument as there are already two jurors who identify as Asian on seated on the jury.
Juror No. 55 was the last juror questioned and seated Thursday. He works as a field systems engineer in cybersecurity.
Juror No. 7 expresses concerns about identity becoming public
There were some questions on Thursday about whether Judge Regina Chu would dismiss Juror No. 7, who was seated on Tuesday, from the jury after he expressed concerns about his identity becoming public.
The juror returned to the courtroom for questioning Thursday afternoon. He said his phone started blowing up immediately after he was selected as a juror.
He told the court he did not realize the trial would be broadcast live. He said the jury summons he received in the mail did not mention a livestream.
Juror No. 7 said he looked up a recorded version of the courtroom livestream as soon as he got home so he could watch himself. He noted defense attorney Earl Gray had stated his name and that he had revealed the name of his band during questioning, both things which would make it easy for people to find him.
"I was really scared and freaked out," the juror said.
However, Juror No. 7 said the only people who reached out to her directly were people he knew. He said he feels better and more calm now that he is a couple of days removed from the situation. He believes his name is not as known or publicly widespread as he first feared and that he is feeling "much more comfortable" now.
Juror No. 7 confirmed he is still willing to serve as on the jury and will remain fair and impartial.
Gray then got up to apologize to the juror for mentioning their name.
"I am the culprit who started the whole thing," he said.
Gray said he hopes Juror No. 7 will not hold it against him and the juror said he will not.
Juror No. 7 will remain a juror on the case.
How to watch the Kim Potter trial
Judge Chu has allowed cameras in the courtroom and for the Potter trial to be streamed live. The Potter trial will be streamed live, gavel to gavel, on fox9.com/live, the FOX 9 YouTube channel and the FOX 9 News App. Download the app for Android or Apple.
Where jury selection stands
Jury selection began on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Judge Chu has set aside one week for jury selection.
- 12 jurors seated--six men and six women. Two alternate jurors still need to be seated.
- State has used all three of their peremptory strikes
- Defense has used four of their five peremptory strikes
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."
How will the Potter trial jury be selected?
Jury selection began on Tuesday, Nov. 30 and is expected to take about a week.
Judge Chu has ordered the identities of the jurors to remain a secret for the duration of the trial, so they will only be referred to by a random, previously assigned number. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will decide when the jurors’ identities can be made public.
The court asked potential jurors to fill out a 13-page questionnaire asking about their knowledge of the case, police connections, attitudes towards the legal system and their media habits. The answers were provided to the attorneys and the judge prior to the start of jury selection.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys will be able to question the prospective jurors over their questionnaire responses during jury selection. Over a dozen potential jurors have already been dismissed, likely over their answers on the questionnaire.
READ NEXT: What to know about the Kim Potter trial
During jury selection, prosecutors and Potter’s defense attorneys will question each potential juror one at a time, separately from the others. The defense is allowed five peremptory challenges while the state has three. Attorneys do not have to provide a reason for why they object the juror when using a peremptory challenge. Potential jurors can also be struck from the jury for cause, meaning there is a reason to believe the juror is unfit for a fair trial. There is no limit on the number of jurors who can be removed for cause.
The jury will be partially sequestered during the trial and fully sequestered during deliberation, although Judge Chu may order full sequestration at any time.
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