The second day of the trial for Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter was highlighted by the testimony of the passenger in Daunte Wright’s car, Alayna Albrecht-Payton, who said that she and Wright had been dating.
Although understandably emotional when recounting the moments before and after Potter shot and killed Wright, Albrecht-Payton offered a clear and firm testimony.
It was also a tough day on family and friends as police bodycam footage showed Wright’s limp body being pulled out of his car on a few occasions. “I put my hands on his chest,” recalled Albrecht-Payton. “I kept saying, ‘Daunte! Daunte! Please say something—just talk to me,’ and he just couldn’t. I know he tried,” she said through tears. “I replay that image in my head daily.”
Albrecht-Payton stated that Wright was not driving when the car crashed head-on into an elderly couple’s car after he was shot by Potter, but that his foot was on the accelerator.
The witness did not support the defense’s contention that Wright re-took control of the car. There was a lot of back and forth, but Albrecht-Payton said initially that the car had been running the entire time. After more questioning, the defense acknowledged that she was not sure.
The defense seemed to be suggesting to the jury that Wright had control of the car after he was shot.
When interviewing the elderly woman whose car was hit by Wright’s, the defense seemed to slip in the idea that he was driving. The woman, Patricia Lundgren, who was driving in the opposite direction with her husband also took the stand and told how the accident has severely affected her husband who suffered severe injuries in the crash.
In interviewing the two police officers who arrived on the scene before everyone else, it was revealed that precious minutes ticked off after the car crash before police finally pulled Wright out of the car.
In the police video of the event, Brooklyn Center Officer Alan Salvosa arrives and yells several times for the occupants to put their hands up. At one point Albrecht-Payton can be heard yelling “I can’t”’ as Salvosa continues to yell the command. She also tells the officer that Wright is not breathing.
But Officer Salvosa and one of the other officers that arrived on the scene continued to hold them at gunpoint. He was directly asked by prosecutor Erin Eldridge, “Do you agree that for several minutes you held the vehicle at gunpoint?” Salvosa answered “yes.”
It was never made clear why they thought Wright was armed. There was never any radio communication to him saying so. Officer Salvosa admitted on the stand that he “had no information that anyone in the car had a weapon.” Later in his testimony, he added, “We had to assume that a weapon was involved.”
But police were hesitant to approach the vehicle after the crash. And according to the police who arrived, they were not all aware of what happened, and that Wright had been shot.
After minutes ticked off, Salvosa said, “We talked about it for another few minutes about how to safely remove the driver from the car.”
The police mentioned a device that would help them move on the vehicle. An officer in the background could be heard saying, “Let’s wait til we have one [device] I’m in no rush.”
Police eventually pulled Wright out of the car and he was pronounced dead not long afterward. Albrecht-Payton was handcuffed and placed in a squad car.
There was some confusion in Officer Salvosa’s testimony, as he first said he could not see anyone in the car and thus kept his gun drawn. But later he said he saw the driver moving back and forth.
Daunte’s mother Katie Ann Bryant (also known as Katie Wright) was in the room as the Brooklyn Center cops who were captured in photos trying tried to comfort her after the shooting were now revealed to be the same cops who did not immediately come to her son’s aid.
Officer Jeffrey Sommers who arrived on the scene not long after Officer Salvosa, also pulled his gun and trained it on the passenger as his fellow officers organized to finally approach the vehicle.
One of the paramedics that was on the scene was called to standby; he confirmed that Wright had no pulse after police pulled him from the vehicle.
At the end of the day’s proceedings, the defense called for a mistrial alleging that the evidence didn’t relate to how Potter shot Wright.
The prosecution entered a Blakely motion, which would allow a departure upward in sentencing if she is convicted.
The trial is scheduled to continue on Friday morning at 10 am.
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.