Thursday’s jury selection concluded with the seating of the 12 jurors that will weigh the case against former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kimberly Potter who shot and killed Daunte Wright in April 2021 after a traffic stop.
It also included information provided by a juror (#52) that may have revealed Potter’s views on race.
According to the potential juror, someone driving her friend’s car while the friend was in the backseat committed a hit-and-run accident. She said that detective Potter came to her friend’s apartment and instead of interrogating her about the accident, the prospective juror, who is a White woman, said, “She started interrogating [my friend] about her boyfriend, who is Black.”
The potential juror said the boyfriend was not present in the apartment and was at work at the time. She said Potter asked, “Why would you be with a guy like that? He’s a bad influence for you.” She described her friend as being mixed, but she said her hair is blond. “She is White,” she said.
When Judge Regina Chu asked the potential juror if she made the remarks because she (Potter) thought he was a bad influence, or because he was Black, Juror #52 answered, “Because he was Black and because he would be a bad influence to her.”
Oddly, the boyfriend was not at the accident scene or part of the accident. It was not clear how Potter knew that her friend’s boyfriend was Black.
The juror did not witness any of this firsthand but assured the judge that her friend “would not lie about this.”
There was also controversy during Thursday’s court proceedings when a juror was concerned that his name had been said out loud by defense attorney Earl Gray. Gray acknowledged the error and apologized. He had also mentioned two potential jurors’ last names earlier in jury selection.
Another moment of note arose when during the questioning of a prospective juror who was a young Asian woman who said she had just begun law school. She seemed to be struck for cause by the defense out of concern that she had celebrated the conviction of a police officer on social media. The young woman appeared quite thoughtful and conscientious.
The State challenged the defense’s strike using a Batson challenge.
Ironically, Judge Chu, who is Asian, denied the State’s motion. She remarked that “there are already two Asians on the jury.” The curious statement left one to wonder would it be possible to have too many Whites on the jury?
All of the jurors selected on Thursday were White. On Friday it’s likely that the two alternate jurors will be selected.
Among those chosen was an IT security consultant from Bloomington who had been part of the police explorers group there as a youth. He said he was interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement but reconsidered after he said he realized, “I’d end up having to use my gun.”
A White woman in her 40s who said she has two little children was also seated. She wrote in an answer to a question on the lengthy questionnaire that Wright “should not have died for something like expired [car registration] tabs.” She also noted that she somewhat disagreed with the statement: “police make you feel safe.” When questioned about her answer by the defense, she answered, “I guess I’m just nervous around authority.”
The last juror seated was a White man who said he is a Navy veteran. He appeared to be in his 50s. He told attorneys that his wife and daughter had been carjacked by men who were Hispanic or Black and that his wife had been pistol-whipped by the robbers. He said this fact would not hinder his ability to be fair toward the Black victim.
Opening statements in the case are slated to begin on December 8.