Defense says their client is “human“
“Ms. Potter’s good name has been besmirched,” said Kimberly Potter’s defense attorney Paul Engh in his opening statement on the first day of her trial for killing Daunte Wright.
“We expect our officers to know left from right,” said assistant Minnesota Attorney General Erin Eldridge in her opening remarks on behalf of the prosecution.
She tried to say that the case is not about Daunte Wright but her statement was met with an objection by the defense that the judge sustained. The defense took the opposite approach and made their case about the victim as Engh, in his remarks said, “All he had to do was surrender.”
Eldridge did make the point and the prosecution’s contention that Potter should have known the difference between her taser and her Glock handgun. She pointed out that the taser weighs 0.7 lbs. while a fully loaded Glock weighs around two and a half pounds.
The prosecution acknowledged that Wright had been pulled over but pointed out that citizens don’t expect to wind up dead in the streets as a result.
The defense said Potter’s actions were justified because she “had to do what she had to do to prevent a death to a fellow officer.” Engh said that Wright could have driven off and killed the officer (Sgt. Mychal Johnson) who had tried to assist from the driver’s side.
The defense seemed to bolster their case with the longer version of the police body camera video after the shooting. The video showed Potter on her knees on a curb crying and distraught. “F– I just shot him! I grabbed the wrong (expletive) gun,” she said.
“Oh my God,” Potter said more than once. The video showed her on the ground on her knees apparently crying and at one point she said, “I am going to go to prison.”
Potter’s defense had argued in pretrial filings that the video reinforced their point that this was all an accident.
Daunte Wright’s mother Katie Ann Bryant (also known as Katie Wright) took the stand today and told the court that her son was a “jokester” and a good kid. While she was on the stand, the prosecution showed a video of her arriving on the scene. It was heart-wrenching as the video showed her in deep agony after realizing that her son was no longer alive. She said she was able to identify him by his tennis shoes.
When pressed by the defense’s Earl Gray, she admitted that she knew her son did not have a driver’s license.
Also during cross-examination, Gray asked Bryant if Ben Crump was her lawyer to which she confirmed. Crump has also represented the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin in civil matters.
On the witness stand, Officer Anthony Luckey, who pulled Wright over and set the tragic events into motion, said that he began following the car and pulled the 20-year-old over because of his “gut instinct.”
This may explain why Wright reportedly told his mom during a phone call prior to the shooting that the officer initially told him he was stopped for having an “air freshener” in the window. Luckey said on the stand that he noticed the “behavior” of the car.
He said he smelled marijuana but did not see smoke and said he saw marijuana residue. He told the prosecution in cross-examination that it was not a bag. The defense seemed to float the idea that Wright may have been high but Luckey did not confirm this supposition.
Luckey, who is Black, said he wanted to become a police officer so he “could do some good in the world.”
On another note, one media outlet reported that police said that they had reason to believe that Wright was armed, but when asked directly by the defense, Officer Luckey said that he did not believe that the driver was armed.
The trial resumes on Thursday at 9 am.
This story was edited to correct the weight of the taser from 7 lbs to 0.7 lbs.
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