Minnesota cop Kimberly Potter knew she had screwed up within seconds of shooting and killing Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old man who had been pulled over for driving with an expired license registration.
Wright also had an air freshener dangling from his rear view mirror – which happens to be a crime in Minnesota – and that was dutifully noted by the eager rookie cop whom she was training and who was driving the patrol car that initiated the traffic stop on April 11, 2021.
Potter, a 26-year veteran with the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Minnesota, ended up shooting and killing Wright after trying to taser him.
She then broke down crying, knowing she would be charged. After all, the shooting took place as the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was taking place a few miles away in Minneapolis. A time when the nation had finally started paying attention to police abuse.
Fast forward to December 2021 and Potter is being tried in the same courtroom that sent Chauvin to prison for 22.5 years earlier this year after the jury deliberated for two days.
However, it appears some jurors have taken a much more sympathetic stance towards Potter because the jury has been unable to come up with a decision after two days of deliberations.
Today, as the jury begins deliberating for a third day, there is speculation the trial will end in a mistrial, a result of a hung jury. If that happens, Potter will likely be retried but that would be up to prosecutors and the judge.
Potter’s attorneys have argued that Wright caused his own death by attempting to flee the traffic stop, according to the New York Times.
“This lady here made a mistake, and my gosh, a mistake is not a crime,” said defense attorney Earl Gray.
But prosecutor Erin Eldridge said that, “Accidents can still be crimes.”
“This was a colossal screw-up, a blunder of epic proportions,” the prosecutor told jurors.
Potter testified that she normally would not have pulled over Wright for the expired registration or dangling air freshener, especially since she had been told not to make those stops during the pandemic, a period when it was difficult, if not impossible, to renew tags.
But the rookie cop, Anthony Luckey, wanted to make the stop so she went along with it. And once they pulled him over, they discovered Wright had a warrant for his arrest for a gross misdemeanor gun charge so they ordered him out of the car. The rookie cop also claimed to have smelled weed and seen marijuana residue.
Wright, whose girlfriend was sitting in the passenger seat, at first complied by stepping out of the car and placing his hands behind his back but then he pulled away and attempted to get back into his car.
Potter, who resigned from her job within days of the shooting, claimed to have seen “fear” in the face of another cop who had entered Wright’s car from the passenger side and was trying to stop him from driving off.
“Kim, that guy was trying to take off with me in the car,” said Brooklyn Center Police Sergeant Mychal Johnson minutes after the shooting as she lay on the grass sobbing, apparently not minding that she discharged her gun with him in the line of fire.
The jury is deliberating charges of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter which can result in a conviction even if it is never proven she intended to kill Wright which both sides agree she did not.
According to PBS, the jury would need to conclude that Potter caused Wright’s death while committing the misdemeanor of “reckless handling or use of a firearm so as to endanger the safety of another with such force and violence that death or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable.”
In order to convict her for second-degree manslaughter, jurors would need to conclude that she caused his death “by her culpable negligence,” which means that Potter “caused an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm” to Wright, while using or possessing a firearm, PBS reported.
However, the real question jurors need to consider is whether cops are above the law to the point they can shoot and kill a person by “mistake” over an air freshener dangling rom his rear view mirror, a stop that should never have been done in the first place unless they were fishing.
Watch the video below which contains portions of her testimony where she apologizes through tears for killing Wright, followed by footage from the shooting and her breakdown afterwards.