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Kim Potter trial updates: Jury begins deliberations

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(NEW YORK) — The trial of former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter charged in the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot during a traffic stop, continues with Potter taking the stand to testify in her own defense.

Potter, 49, is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 incident. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

The maximum sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years and a $30,000 fine and for second-degree manslaughter, it’s 10 years and a $20,000 fine.

Wright’s death reignited protests against racism and police brutality across the U.S., as the killing took place just outside of Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, was taking place.

Latest headlines:
-Closing arguments begin
-‘I didn’t want to hurt anybody,’ Potter testifies
-Prosecution questions Kim Potter on training
-Potter describes fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright
-Kim Potter takes the stand
-New body-cam footage shows Potter moments after shooting Wright
-Brooklyn Center police officer contradicts defense statement
-Daunte Wright’s mother recalls final phone call with son
-Prosecution hammers Potter’s training

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Dec 20, 2:04 pm
Jury deliberations begin

Judge Regina Chu has read the instructions to the jury and they will now deliberate on the charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter against former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter.

Included in the instructions are reminders of unconscious bias: “We all have feelings, assumptions, perceptions, fears, and stereotypes about others,” Chu read to the jury. “Some biases we are aware of and others we might not be fully aware of, which is why they are called ‘implicit’ or ‘unconscious biases.'”

“The law demands that you make a fair decision, based solely on the evidence, your individual evaluations of that evidence, your reason and common sense, and these instructions,” Chu read from the instructions.

Dec 20, 1:47 pm
Prosecution, defense spar on Sgt. Mychal Johnson’s testimony

In closing arguments, the defense said that Kim Potter was within her rights to use deadly force against Daunte Wright because he could have hurt another police officer with his car.

The defense claims Wright could have driven off, dragging Sgt. Mychal Johnson.

“What would have happened to Johnson? The worst would be death if he took off like he did — like a jet,” defense attorney Earl Gray said.

“[Potter] said she saw Johnson, that she saw him and he had a look on his face she’d never seen,” Gray added. “That was right before she said ‘Taser, Taser.'”

The prosecution argues there is no evidence that shows Potter was using force for Johnson’s protection or that Johnson was afraid for his life.

“Johnson was clearly not afraid of being dragged,” said prosecutor Matthew Frank. He never said he was scared. He didn’t say it then. And he didn’t testify to it in court.”

Prosecutors said Johnson wasn’t halfway into the car at the time of the shooting, and that he was “all the way over to the passenger side securing Mr. Wright’s right arm.”

Prosecutors also pointed to Potter’s reaction after the shooting, when she sobbed on the ground and said she would be going to jail in the body camera footage.

“When Sergeant Johnson said ‘he was trying to drive away with me in the car,’ which isn’t even true, but he offered that to her and she didn’t even bite on it,” Frank told jurors. “She was so caught up in recognition of the wrongfulness of her own conduct.”

Dec 20, 12:57 pm
Defense tells jury that state has the burden of proof

Defense attorney Earl Gray told the jury to remember that “your constitutional duty is to presume Kim Potter innocent. And before you can find her guilty, you must find each and every element of the charges is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

It is on the prosecution to prove Potter is guilty. It is not the responsibility of the defense to prove her not guilty, according to Gray and prosecutor Erin Eldridge. Gray argued throughout the trial that it was within Potter’s right to use deadly force against a fleeing subject.

“The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s use of deadly force was not authorized by law,” Gray said. “You must presume that she had a right authorized use of deadly force, that she had a right to do it.”

“This is the most important affair in the client’s life,” Gray said.

Dec 20, 12:49 pm
Defense argues that Wright caused his death

Defense attorney Earl Gray said that Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop, caused his own death. Officers tried to arrest Wright, but he attempted to get back in his car to flee, police said.

“Wright realizes there’s a warrant for his arrest, and he knows what he knows,” Gray argued. “So within seconds, he all of a sudden breaks away. That’s the cause, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. That’s what caused this whole incident.”

Wright was being arrested for an outstanding warrant on a gross misdemeanor weapons charge, according to authorities.

“Daunte Wright caused his death,” Gray said during closing arguments Monday. “Everything the officers did, they did to try and restrain him try and stop him from leaving.”

 

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