Jurors in Kim Potter Trial Shown Differences Between Police-Issued Gun, Taser

Jurors in the trial of Kim Potter, a Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright, were shown the differences Monday between Potter's handgun and the Taser she said she intended to use when she shot him.

Wright, 20, was killed after being pulled over in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, for having expired license plate tags and an air freshener hanging from this rearview mirror.

Police tried to arrest him on a previous warrant for a weapons charge, but Wright pulled away from the officers and got back into his car when Potter, 49, shot him, but she said she meant to use a Taser.

Sam McGinnis, a senior special agent with the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified Monday about the differences between Potter's handgun and the Taser.

McGinnis told the jury that the police-issued gun is black, weighs a little over 2 pounds and is kept in a gun holster with a snap. The Taser is yellow, weighs under a pound and has a lever to release it from the duty belt.

Additionally, McGinnis demonstrated for the jury that the Taser has an LED light and laser shown before it is fired, while the gun does not.

Prosecutors asked for the judge to allow the jurors to hold the Taser but were denied. However, the judge said the jurors will be able to as part of the evidence during deliberations.

Donte Wright, Fatal Gunshot Wound
In this screen grab from video, an illustration of the path of the bullet recovered from Daunte Wright's body is discussed by Dr. Lorren Jackson, assistant medical examiner in Hennepin County, Minnesota, while testifying on December 13, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter in Wright's April 11, 2021, death, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Court TV/AP Photo

The defense has called the shooting a horrific mistake, but has also asserted that Potter would have been within her rights to used deadly force on Wright because he might have dragged Johnson with his car.

The video showed the critical moments where Wright pulled away as another officer was on the verge of handcuffing him, followed by Potter shouting "I'll Tase you!" and "Taser, Taser, Taser!" and then shooting him once with her handgun.

McGinnis also testified that Potter didn't perform a function test on her Taser at the start of her shift. Although the Brooklyn Center Police Department's policy is that officers are supposed to do that, McGinnis acknowledged under cross-examination that he didn't check to see how widely the department's officers complied.

Earlier Monday, Dr. Lorren Jackson, an assistant Hennepin County medical examiner, testified that the gunshot wound causing injuries to Wright's heart and lungs is what caused his death. He said with these injuries, one can survive "seconds to minutes."

"Far and away the gunshot wound to the chest was the most significant injury," he said during testimony in which he walked jurors through Wright's autopsy.

After Wright was shot, his car drove away and collided seconds later with an oncoming car. Any injuries from the crash were insignificant in terms of what caused Wright's death, Jackson said.

Jackson testified that Wright had some cannabinoids, or THC and its metabolites, in his blood from smoking marijuana, but that they didn't factor in his cause of death. Under cross-examination, he testified that the level of THC metabolites in Wright's blood was "on the high end" of numbers he sees, but was still within a normal range for people who use marijuana.

Jurors were shown graphic images of Wright's body at the scene, as the assistant medical examiner found the body on the ground, with some medical equipment still attached from lifesaving efforts, and some dried blood from the gunshot wound.

Jurors also heard testimony from a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension forensic scientist who recovered a cartridge case from the front driver's seat of the vehicle. Jurors were shown a picture of the car's interior, with the driver's seat smeared in blood.

Potter, a 26-year police veteran who resigned two days after the shooting, said she meant to draw her Taser. Wright's death, which came while Derek Chauvin was on trial in nearby Minneapolis in George Floyd's death, set off several nights of angry protests in Brooklyn Center.

The state is expected to rest its case midweek.

The state filed two motions Monday, including one designed to limit the opinion of witnesses who are not testifying as experts.

The request came after a witness called by the state, former Brooklyn Center police Sergeant Mychal Johnson, testified on cross-examination Friday that Potter's actions were authorized under state law. Johnson was not testifying as an expert on the police use of force, but as a law enforcement officer who was at the traffic stop.

The state asked the court to bar the defense from eliciting such testimony from future witnesses and to strike such testimony from witnesses who have already testified.

Prosecutors filed a second motion seeking permission to question police officers about union membership. They wrote that Potter had roles in the union, including as president, which gave her an elevated level of respect among her co-workers. Prosecutors say they should be allowed to ask officers about this so that jurors can use the information to assess the witnesses' credibility and potential bias toward Potter.

Prosecutors spent the first week of testimony showing jurors police video of the traffic stop, in which an officer in training, Anthony Luckey, took the lead under Potter's guidance.

The case is being heard by a mostly white jury.

State sentencing guidelines call for just over seven years in prison upon conviction of first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree, though prosecutors have said they plan to push for even longer sentences.

Update 12/13/21, 5:47 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include information on Sam McGinnis' testimony.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Minnesota, Kim Potter, Trial, Daunte Wright
In this screen grab from video, the bullet recovered from Daunte Wright's body was a topic of testimony by Dr. Lorren Jackson, assistant medical examiner at Hennepin County, Minnesota, on December 13, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter in Wright's April 11, 2021, death, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Court TV/AP Photo

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