Closing arguments are expected to start Monday in the manslaughter trial of former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter, who tearfully apologized last week for killing Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
Defense attorneys for Potter, 49, rested their case Friday after the ex-Brooklyn Center cop charged in the April 11 death of Wright told jurors she “didn’t want to hurt anybody” when she used her gun instead of a Taser, fatally shooting the black man as he tried to drive away.
“I’m so sorry,” Potter testified, at times fighting to compose herself. “I’m sorry it happened … I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
Potter told jurors she didn’t remember what she said during the stop as cops pulled Wright over for having expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.
“We were struggling, we were trying to keep him from driving away, it just went chaotic,” Potter testified. “I remember yelling ‘Taser, Taser, Taser!’ and nothing happened and then, he told me I shot him.”
Potter was referring to another officer telling her she had shot Wright. Body-cam footage shown to jurors in the case depicts the officer shouting out after Potter insisted she accidentally pulled her gun instead of her Taser.
“Oh my God!” she yelled as another officer tried to console her, the footage shows. “Holy sh-t! I just shot him!”
Potter, who resigned after the fatal shooting, has pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree manslaughter. She faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted on both counts.
Her attorneys have characterized Wright’s killing as accidental, but claim she would have been justified in using deadly force if she intended to protect another officer from being dragged by the man’s car.
Brooklyn Center police Sgt. Mychal Johnson previously testified he was leaning into Wright’s car preparing to handcuff him when he heard Potter warn she would use her Taser to detain Wright, but instead fired a single round as the injured man drove off.
Johnson told jurors he believed deadly force was justified. Former Brooklyn Center police Chief Tim Gannon, who stepped down days after the shooting, also testified in Potter’s defense, characterizing her as a “fine officer” while saying he saw “no violation” of policy with her actions.
But a use-of-force expert, Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, disputed that assertion, saying Potter’s actions and use of deadly force were “not appropriate” and that a reasonable officer couldn’t have believed it was proportional to the threat Wright presented at the time.
The deadly stop set off demonstrations in Brooklyn Center and beyond as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was standing trial for killing George Floyd in May 2020.
Attorneys not associated with the case who are closely watching the high-profile trial told KARE they expect to possibly get a verdict from jurors by Christmas.
With Post wires