Kim Potter to Testify About Daunte Wright's Death as 3 Jurors Seated for Upcoming Trial

The police officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright will testify during her trial.

Paul Engh, one of the attorneys for former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Officer Kim Potter, said during jury selection that his client will give testimony once the trial begins. Potter has been charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter after shooting Wright at a traffic stop in April. She maintains that she thought she grabbed her Taser when she actually grabbed and fired her gun. Jury selection is underway.

"Officer Potter will testify and tell you what she remembers happened, so you will know not just from the video but from the officers at the scene and Officer Potter herself what was occurring," Engh told the potential juror. "I think [you] should be quite interested in hearing what she had to say."

The shooting of Wright occurred during the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of killing George Floyd, a death that sparked global protests and demands to alter policing in the United States.

Prospective jurors were given similar questions to those posed before Chauvin's trial. Three have been seated—a medical editor, a retired special-education teacher and a Target operations manager.

Jury selection will last for five more days, with opening statements slated to begin on December 8. It is unknown when Potter will take the stand.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Daunte Wright Rally
Jury selection has begun in the trial of former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, who is charged with manslaughter in the April shooting death of Daunte Wright. Potter claims she thought she was using her Taser when she shot Wright with her handgun. Above, people gather outside the Hennepin County Government Center on November 30, 2021, in Minneapolis. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Roughly 200 people were asked what they knew about the Potter case, their impressions of her and Wright, and their views on protests and policing in the Minneapolis area in recent years.

The medical editor said he has a very unfavorable view of the "blue lives matter" slogan that has emerged in recent years. He said he believes it's less about supporting police than about countering the Black Lives Matter movement.

But he also said he opposes the movement to abolish or defund the police.

"I absolutely believe there's a need for change," he said. "But I think defund the police sends a message, a negative message....I don't agree with that message and I don't agree with the approach that was taken to defund the police."

The former teacher said she is a mother of four adult daughters, including one she lost to breast cancer nearly two years ago. Asked if she could be fair, the woman said yes and added: "I'm a retired teacher and one of my students told me one time that I'm strict-fair."

The Target employee was seated despite saying he is somewhat distrustful of police, though he added: "I do recognize that it's a very hard job...and it's not something I could do myself."

Among the potential jurors dismissed was a woman who said on her questionnaire that Potter should have known the difference between her gun and her Taser and a man who described Black Lives Matter as "Marxist Communist."

That man also said of Wright: "I think if he would've listened to the [police] directions, he would still be with us."

Jurors' names were being withheld and they were not shown on the livestream of the trial. But efforts to protect their identities slipped at times, with defense attorney Earl Gray appearing to say one prospective juror's name aloud and asking the musician the name of his band.

Potter's defense team can dismiss up to five jurors without giving a reason, compared with three for the prosecution, which is standard in Minnesota courts. In Chauvin's case, where the pretrial publicity was much more intense, the defense was allowed 15 strikes versus nine for prosecutors. Neither side needs to justify such a peremptory strike unless the other side argues it was because of a juror's race, ethnicity or gender.

Potter said she made an innocent mistake when she shot Wright. She and two other officers at the scene, including one she was training, moved to arrest Wright after learning there was a warrant out for him on a gross misdemeanor charge.

As Wright tried to drive off, Potter, who is white, can be heard on her body camera video saying "Taser, Taser Taser" before she fired, followed by "I grabbed the wrong [expletive] gun." The video shows her holding her handgun for about five seconds before firing.

Prosecutors charged Potter, who resigned two days after the shooting, with first- and second-degree manslaughter, saying she was an experienced officer who was trained to know better. The most serious charge requires prosecutors to prove recklessness; the lesser only requires them to prove culpable negligence. Minnesota's sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of just over seven years on the first-degree manslaughter count, and four years for second-degree. But prosecutors have said they'll seek a longer sentence.

The jury pool comes from Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis and is the state's most populous county. Hennepin is 74 percent white, 14 percent Black, 7.5 percent Asian and 7 percent Latino, according to census data. Brooklyn Center is one of the most diverse cities in the state, at 46 percent white, 29 percent Black, 16 percent Asian and 15 percent Latino.

Kim Potter
One of her attorneys said that former Police Officer Kim Potter, who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, will testify during her trial. Above, an undated booking photo of Potter provided by the Hennepin County, Minnesota, Sheriff's Office. Hennepin County Sheriff via AP, File

California civil rights attorney John Burris, who won a $2.8 million settlement for the family of a man killed by a transit officer in Oakland who went to prison for grabbing his gun instead of a Taser in 2009, said jurors typically give police the benefit of the doubt. But he said times have changed since Floyd was killed. If the jury selected for Potter is as diverse as Chauvin's jury, which was half people of color, he predicted that they'll take a thoughtful approach.

Mike Brandt, a local attorney, said that if he was on the defense team, he'd rather have the case tried in a rural or suburban county. He said Hennepin tends to be "more on the liberal side," with more people who support holding police accountable.

Alfreda Daniels Juasemai, an activist in Brooklyn Center, said Chauvin's conviction bolstered faith in the courts. She's hoping for a conviction for Potter, too.

"I have lived in this country long enough to know that getting my hopes up is not going to be good for my mental health," said Daniels Juasemai, who emigrated from Liberia in 2006. "I do hope that Kim Potter is guilty of something at this point, but I am trying so hard to not expect anything."