by Amy Forlitti and Scott Bauer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Juries weighing the case of the suburban police officer who shot and killed a suburban Minneapolis police officer on Tuesday asked the judge after a full day of deliberations if they could not reach a verdict. So what should they do?
Judge Regina Chu told him to continue working, as stated in the initial instructions given to him. The jurors resumed deliberations for about 90 minutes, then ended for the day shortly after 6 p.m. The jury also deliberated for about five hours on Monday.
Former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter, who is white, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder. If convicted of the most serious charge, Potter, 49, would face a sentence of about seven years under state guidelines, though prosecutors have said they will demand more.
Potter said she wanted to use her Taser on Wright instead of her gun. Prosecutors presented evidence on differences between the gun and the Taser, including weight, feel, size, color, and that the gun was concealed on his right side and the Taser on his left.
Prosecutor Erin Aldridge said in her closing argument that the jury would be able to compare both the Taser and the gun, “to get a feel for both, and to get a sense of all the differences you heard about in court.” , and see for yourself how different they really are.”
The jurors asked if they could remove the zip ties while placing the former Potter’s gun in an evidence box so they could hold it, and the judge said they could. Potter attorney Paul Engh protested, saying the gun must remain in the box “for security purposes”.
Jury members may also examine Taser during their deliberations.
Chu read the jury’s question about the deliberations: “If the jury cannot reach a consensus, what is the guidance as to when and what steps should be taken?”
She then read again the jury’s instructions that jurors should “continue to discuss the matter with each other and deliberate toward reaching agreement if you can do so without violating your personal judgment.” should do.”
Potter’s lawyers objected to the judge re-reading that directive, arguing that doing so emphasized that paragraph over the rest of the directive. Chu rejected.
Professor Rachel Moran of the University of St. Thomas’ School of Law said the jurors did not say they were in a deadlock.
“Judge (Regina) Chu will let them deliberate if they don’t express concern or distress about how it’s going,” Moran said.
The judge ordered that the jury be separated during the deliberations – meaning they remain under court supervision at an undisclosed hotel and cannot return home until they reach a verdict or the judge. determined that they could not reach one. Her order allows them to communicate with family members as long as they avoid discussing the trial.
During closing arguments, prosecutors accused Potter of a “mistake of epic proportions” in Wright’s death in an April 11 traffic stop – but said the mistake was no defense.
Potter’s attorneys counter that Wright, who was attempting to get away from officers as they sought to handcuff him for an excellent warrant on a weapons charge, “caused the whole incident.”
The case came about a week and a half after a mostly white jury received testimony about the arrest, which went awry, setting off angry protests at the Brooklyn Center, such as the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd on a nearby Minneapolis shore. Was. Potter resigned two days after Wright’s death.
Aldridge called Wright’s death “totally preventable”. completely avoidable. She urged the jury not to condone this as a mistake: “Accidents can still be crimes if they result from negligent or culpable negligence.”
Potter’s attorney Earl Gray argued that Wright was indicted for trying to run away from the police. Potter accidentally grabbed his gun instead of his Taser because the traffic stop was “chaotic,” he said.
Potter testified Friday that she “didn’t want to hurt anyone” and that she was “sorry, it happened.”
Chu told jurors that intent was not part of the charges and that the state did not have to prove that Potter tried to kill Wright.
The judge said that for 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, prosecutors must prove that he acted negligently, meaning he intentionally took the chance of death or major bodily harm.
Associated Press writer Kathleen Foodie 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