The second day of jury selection in the Kim Potter manslaughter trial resulted in an additional five jurors being seated, bringing the total number to nine. Jury selection began on Tuesday.
The jury selection seemed to go quickly with most potential jurors being selected starting with a Black mother and teacher who lives near Brooklyn Center. She described the events surrounding Potter’s killing of Daunte Wright as “chaotic-ness.”
Judge Regina Chu and the prosecution and the defense spent a considerable amount of time questioning this juror. The juror’s admission that she owned a taser seemed to be of concern to the prosecution.
Defense attorney Paul Engh asked her to clarify why she wrote on her questionnaire that she “somewhat disagreed” with the statement that “discrimination is not as bad as media makes it out to be.” She told him that, “I think I was speaking to the amount of information that is given in the media in regards to people with certain skin colors. I think there is more negative information provided about people of different skin colors.”
Two jurors were struck by the defense for what seemed to be their views on race and the U.S. criminal justice system. Juror#20 said he thought the justice system was fair when those who sit on juries come from diverse backgrounds. He also said that he thought the criminal justice system is unfair to certain groups of people while adding that the poorer you are the less likely you are to get justice.
Under questioning by defense attorney Earl Gray, he said he believed that “minorities have been treated unfairly.”
Juror number 25 boldly wrote on her questionnaire that she “didn’t think Wright deserved to be shot.” And under questioning by Gray, she admitted that she still holds that view. She also said that police should only use non-lethal weapons. She had written on her questionnaire that she had an unfavorable view of Potter. When asked if she had a bias toward people who are shot by police, she said, “Yes, I think I might be leaning that way.” The defense used one of its peremptory strikes to dismiss her.
The other jurors making the cut:
- A 20-something White woman who was not questioned long by either side and was quickly accepted as a juror during the morning session. She said she felt the protests after Wright was killed negatively affected the community. She said she did not agree with the defund the police movement. “You are always going to need police officers,” she said.
- A White male in his 40s was seated. He had written on his questionnaire that “he did not condone people fleeing from the police.” He struck a discordant tone with Gray with his response to a question about Blue Lives Matter—he said he thought the term was just “marketing.” He wrote, according to Gray, “Of course all lives matter, but cops aren’t dying at nearly the same rate.” Gray seemed taken aback and asked if he had proof to back up the statement.
- A White male in 50s who said he was a registered nurse was seated. His wife had been a law clerk for the Hennepin County Public Defenders Office and a Hennepin County judge. He wrote on his questionnaire that he strongly disagreed with the statement “I do not trust police.” “I do trust them until proven otherwise,” he said. “I expect them to protect me so I don’t really have a reason not to trust them until otherwise depending on circumstances I guess.”
- An Asian woman who appeared to be in her 20s was the last person seated. She said she was surrounded by family and friends who are very opinionated about the case. She said she believes she could put that aside.
Defense attorney Engh again took advantage of an opening made by a prospective juror who wrote on the questionnaire that Porter appeared to have made “a very stupid mistake.” Engh used this statement to drive home to jurors that his client simply made a mistake.
While questioning a prospective juror in the afternoon, prosecutor Matthew Frank committed what could be categorized as a reverse Freudian slip when he said, “What you see in the video is not evidence of a crime.” He cleaned it up, however, pointing out that deciding whether or not a crime was committed will be decided in court.
Jury selection will continue Thursday morning and is expected to wrap up this week.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.