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Monday, January 24, 2022

Jury in Dunte Wright’s death case begins to consider Kim Potter’s case

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 shortly before they could begin deliberations in his murder trial.

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.”

The jury began considering the case shortly before 1 p.m.

Prosecutor Erin Aldridge said during her summary that Wright’s death “could have been completely preventable. Completely avoidable.”

“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.

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

The traffic stop “was chaotic” because the traffic stop, Gray said, accidentally grabbed his gun instead of his Taser.

The jury was ready to deliberate once the closing arguments were over.

Potter, 49, told jurors on Friday that she “didn’t want to hurt anyone,” during the sometimes tearful testimony that she said she tried to use her Taser on Wright after seeing fear on a fellow officer’s face. About shouted the warning. 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 tried to cast doubt on Potter’s testimony by seeing a look of fear on another officer’s face, which was opened to the passenger-side door of the car. I was leaning in and trying to handcuff Wright. The defense argued that he was in danger of being dragged.

“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.

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-old and He said that when he killed Wright.

“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 is a risk every time an officer makes a traffic stop, Potter did not justify using his gun on Wright after turning away from him and other officers during a traffic stop on April 11 because they found him an excellent Were trying to arrest the weapon. capture warrants, Aldridge said.

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“Carrying a badge and a gun is not a license to murder,” she said.

Potter was charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 murder of Wright, who was pulled over for an expired license plate tag and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.

Potter, who was training another officer at the time, said she probably wouldn’t have pulled over 20-year-old Wright’s car if she had been alone that day.

Potter’s lawyers argued that she made a mistake, but would also be justified in using lethal force if she wanted to because of potential harm to another officer, then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson, if he had been dragged by Wright’s car.

While playing Potter’s body camera video frame by frame, Aldridge cast doubt on Potter’s claim that he saw “fear” on Johnson’s face. She explained that Potter was behind Luckey for most of the conversation and that Johnson did not appear in front of her body camera until he fired.

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 with her right hand to her left, putting her hand on her gun as Wright’s car approached—were all voluntary and reflexive. were not.

Chu told the jurors that intent was not part of the charges against Potter and that the state did not have to prove that he 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.

Gray said jurors have a constitutional duty to hold Potter innocent. He also reminded jurors that they needed to find out that prosecutors have proved every element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was heard mostly by a white jury. 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.

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

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