Jury deliberations in the Kimberly Potter trial began shortly after prosecutors and Potter’s defense made closing arguments Monday morning.
The prosecution argued that Potter is guilty of manslaughter because she recklessly handled a weapon, which ultimately resulted in the death of Daunte Wright. Prosecutor Erin Eldridge told the jury that Potter, a former 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center police force, disregarded her almost 19 years of Taser training when she shot and killed Wright on April 11.
“It was a tragedy of her own making, And it’s not just a tragedy—it’s manslaughter. That she was an officer doesn’t make it OK. That she was on-duty does not make it OK. Her actions were rash and reckless and what she did was wrong,” Eldridge said in her closing argument.
The prosecution pointed out that Potter did not conduct a spark test of her Taser that morning. Because she was not accustomed to using her Taser, the prosecution argued, she drew and fired her gun instead.
The prosecution further argued, as they reviewed her bodycam footage frame by frame, that no one—from Officer Anthony Luckey, who was trying to apprehend Wright to Sgt. Mychal Johnson, who shifted Wright’s car to park and tried to take away his keys—was in imminent danger until Potter decided to draw and fire her weapon.
The defense rebutted the claim, saying police officers have to make split-second decisions when faced with danger. Defense attorney Earl Gray told the jurors that “Daunte Wright caused his own death” by attempting to evade arrest and creating a chaotic scene that led Potter to make a mistake her handgun for her Taser.
The defense tried to move for a mistrial again, claiming the prosecution’s rebuttal went too long and their responses were prepared beforehand. Judge Regina Chu denied the motion, siding with the prosecution that they have the right to rebut the defense and superseding factors are in the jury instructions.
The jury, who will be sequestered during deliberations, can only consider the facts of the case and what Potter knew at the time, and not consider her character or theoretical situations that could happen in reaching a verdict.
Potter is charged first-and second-degree manslaughter. If convicted, she faces just over eight years in prison based on state sentencing guidelines.
The jury will deliberate until 6 pm Monday evening.
Henry Pan is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.