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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Jury begins to consider police case in Deontay Wright’s death

by Amy Forlitti and Scott Bauer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A suburban Minneapolis police officer, who says she wanted to use her Taser instead of her gun when she shot and killed black motorist Dante Wright, made a “mistake of epic proportions” and He didn’t have a “licence to kill”. A prosecutor told jurors on Monday to go ahead with their murder trial before they could begin consultations.

Kim Potter’s attorney Earl Gray, however, countered during the closing arguments that the former Brooklyn center officer made an honest mistake by drawing his handgun instead of his Taser and that it was not a crime to shoot Wright.

“In the path of life, no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes,” said Gray. “My God, mistake is not a crime. It is not in our freedom-loving country.”

After a mostly white jury began deliberations shortly before 1 p.m., Potter, 49, was charged with first- and second-degree murder in the April 11 shooting, which left Wright with expired license plate tags and an air freshener. Came on after being pulled to hang from. rearview mirror.

Prosecutor Erin Aldridge said during her summary that Wright’s death “could have been completely preventable. Completely avoidable.” And claiming it was a mistake is not a defense, she said, pointing out that That the words “accident” and “mistake” do not appear in the jury instructions.

“Accidents can still be crimes if they result from negligent or culpable negligence,” Aldridge said.

“He drew a deadly weapon,” Aldridge said. “He aimed it. He pointed it at Don’t Wright’s chest, and he fired.

Gray argued that Wright “caused the whole incident” because he tried to run away from police during a traffic stop. Potter accidentally grabbed his gun instead of his Taser because the traffic stop was “chaotic,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Dante Wright caused his death,” he insisted.

Potter testified Friday that she “didn’t want to hurt anyone,” during the sometimes tearful testimony that she warned about using her Taser on Wright after seeing the fear on a fellow officer’s face. Screamed. She said she was “sorry it happened” and doesn’t remember what she said or whatever happened after the shoot, adding that a lot of her memories of those moments are “missing.”

Aldridge said Monday that the matter was not about whether Potter was sorry.

“Of course he feels bad about what he did. … But it has no place in your discussions,” she said.

Playing Potter’s body camera video frame by frame, Aldridge tries to raise doubts about Potter’s testimony that he fired by seeing the “fear” on the face of another officer, the then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson, who was leaning into the passenger-side door of the car and tried to handcuff Wright.

The defense has argued that Johnson was in danger of being dragged out and that it would have been appropriate for Potter to choose to use lethal force. But Aldridge told the jurors that Potter was behind a third officer she was training for a lot of conversation, and Johnson didn’t appear in front of her camera until after the shot had been fired—and then she topped off. His head was shown as he retreated.

Aldridge also noted that Potter put other people at risk when he fired his gun, highlighting that the third officer was so close to shooting that the cover of a cartridge bounced off his face.

“Jury members, safe handling of a firearm does not include firing it directly into a car with four people,” she said.

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Gray reacted angrily when Potter’s testimony was questioned, attacking him as soon as his closing argument began – highlighting in part how the gamblers were extremely close to the events that Potter witnessed in real time. Slowly looking at the illustration.

“Not playing the video at the right speed where it shows chaos, playing it as slow as possible … it’s a rabbit hole of the wrong direction,” Gray said. He also noted that Potter’s body camera was mounted on his chest and gave a slightly different perspective from his own.

As prosecutors do throughout the three-week trial, Aldridge insisted that Potter, who resigned from the police force two days after the shooting, was a “highly trained” and “highly experienced” 26-year veteran, And he said that he killed Wright when he acted recklessly.

“He made a lot of bad choices, which led to his shooting and the murder of Dante Wright,” Aldridge said. “It was no small oops. It wasn’t putting the wrong date on the check. … It was a huge screw up. A blunder of epic proportions.”

Although there’s a risk every time an officer stops traffic, Potter doesn’t justify using his gun on Wright to walk away from him and the other officers because they arrest him on an excellent weapon possession warrant. Were trying to do it, Eldridge said.

“This case is not about Dante Wright,” Aldridge said. “Deonte Wright is not on trial. That’s not why we’re here today.”

Aldridge also downplayed the testimony of some other officers, who described Potter as a good person or said that they saw nothing wrong with his actions: “The defendant has found himself in trouble and his police family has taken a beating.” He’s patted her back.”

Wright’s death sparked days of angry protests at the Brooklyn Center. It happened while another white officer, Derek Chauvin, was on trial in nearby Minneapolis for the murder of George Floyd.

Aldridge went on to elaborate on the elements for proving first-degree murder, including the requirement that a murder be a “voluntary act.” She said that the various actions Potter took—opening her holster, transferring a piece of paper from her right hand to her left, putting her hand on her gun as Wright’s car approached—were voluntary and not reflexive .

Judge Regina Chu told jurors that intent was not part of the charges against Potter and that the state did not need to prove that she tried to kill Wright.

The judge said that to prove first-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that Potter caused Wright’s death while committing the crime of reckless operation of a firearm. means that he must prove that he has committed a conscious or intentional act when handling or using a firearm that poses a substantial or unreasonable risk that he was aware of and disregarded, and That he had put his safety at risk.

For second-degree murder, the state must prove that he acted negligently, meaning he intentionally took the chance of causing death or major bodily harm.

State sentencing guidelines call for just seven years in prison for first-degree murder and four years for second-degree murder, though prosecutors have said they plan to push for a longer sentence. are.


Associated Press writer Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this story. Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin.


Get full coverage of AP’s Daunte Wright case: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-daunte-wright


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