Potential Jurors in Kim Potter Trial Asked Similar Questions as Those From Chauvin Case

Potential jurors in the manslaughter trial of Kim Potter, former police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, were asked many questions similar to those presented to prospective jurors in Derek Chauvin's trial in the killing of George Floyd.

The potential jurors will have their opinions on policing, protests, and Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements reviewed as jury selection begins Tuesday.

The questionnaire was given to a pool of around 200 potential jurors, the Associated Press reported. In it, some questions mirror those asked of potential jurors in Chauvin's murder trial.

The prospects were requested to give information about their knowledge of the Potter case and if they have a positive or negative impression about her and Daunte Wright, the man Potter killed.

They were also asked if they or close friends or relatives took part "in any of the demonstrations or marches related to policing that took place in the Twin Cities area in the last two years." If they did, they were then asked if they held a sign and the contents of it. Potential jurors were asked if they or anyone they know were injured and experienced property damage in the protests.

The potential jurors had to tell if they believed that the community has been "positively or negatively affected by any of the demonstrations." They were asked to explain if they or close friends or relatives "ever helped support or advocated in favor of or against police reform." A question about supporting the defunding of police was also on the questionnaire.

Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu has a timeline that gives six days for jury selection. She has slated the opening statements for Dec. 8.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kim Potter, Daunte Wright, Jurors, Questionnaire
Potential jurors in the manslaughter trial of Kim Potter, former police officer charged in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, were asked many questions similar to those presented to prospective jurors in Derek Chauvin's trial in the killing of George Floyd. Pictured, Wright's family attends a rally and march organized by families who were victims of police brutality, in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 24, 2021. Christian Monterossa/AP Photo, File

Potter shot Wright as he tried to drive away from a traffic stop on April 11 — a time when Chauvin's trial was taking place and tensions were already high in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Wright's death sparked several nights of protests in Brooklyn Center, which revived painful memories of the sometimes violent unrest that erupted after Floyd's death in May 2020.

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 using a so-called peremptory strike unless the other side argues it was because of a juror's race, ethnicity or gender.

Potter says she made an innocent mistake when she shot Wright during a traffic stop. 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 the 20-year-old Black man 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.

Attorneys who aren't involved in the case expect both sides to give jurors a thorough vetting, as they did in Chauvin's trial. The pool will come 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, the suburb where Wright was killed, is one of the most diverse communities in the state, at 46 percent white, 29 percent Black, 16 percent Asian and 15 percent Latino.

Oakland, 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 who also isn't involved in the case, 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.

Potential Jurors, Kim Potter Trial, Questionnaire
Potential jurors for Kim Potter's trial were given questions, such as if they took part in protests regarding policing. In this handout provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, Potter poses for a mugshot at the Hennepin County Jail on April 14, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images