Consultants: Potter missed likelihood to elucidate Taser

The previous Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright alternated between tears, statements of regret and clipped, matter-of-fact solutions as she testified at her trial on manslaughter prices within the loss of life of the Black motorist

MINNEAPOLIS — The former Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright alternated between tears, statements of regret and clipped, matter-of-fact solutions as she testified at her trial on manslaughter prices within the loss of life of the Black motorist.

However Kim Potter’s testimony on Friday was notably scant on a key component of her protection – that she made a mistake when she drew her handgun as a substitute of her Taser and killed Wright throughout a visitors cease final April in Brooklyn Middle.

One authorized knowledgeable who spoke to The Related Press stated the protection could have been deliberately obscure on that time, however others stated it gave the impression to be a missed alternative for Potter to inform jurors how a mix-up might need occurred and what she was considering — one thing jurors had been doubtless ready to listen to.

“I didn’t assume they pulled sufficient out of Potter as a result of we didn’t get into her thoughts,” stated Marsh Halberg, a Minneapolis protection legal professional who just isn’t related to the case.

Below questioning from her legal professional Earl Grey, Potter testified that as officers had been combating Wright, she noticed her supervisor, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, leaning into the automobile with “a glance of worry in his face.” As she cried on the stand, she went on to say: “I keep in mind yelling, ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ and nothing occurred, after which he informed me I shot him. » Physique digicam video recorded Wright saying, “Ah, he shot me » earlier than the automobile took off.

“He obtained her to confess that she noticed worry on Johnson’s face, however didn’t discover that additional,” stated John Baker, a former protection legal professional who’s now instructing aspiring cops at St. Cloud State College. “He ought to’ve gone a lot additional and requested her to testify extra on that, » Baker stated.

He added that Grey did not have Potter clarify the error, saying: “They didn’t even tackle it.”

Mike Brandt, one other Minneapolis legal professional watching the case, stated breaking down the moments surrounding the capturing could have been efficient, however the protection “made a tactical resolution that it wasn’t going to be obligatory and depart it, maybe, extra obscure if you’ll.”

Brandt stated the aim of placing Potter, who’s white, on the stand was to humanize her for the jury, one thing he thinks was completed efficiently. Brandt stated Grey did a superb job of utilizing Potter’s phrases to color an image of a lady who was impressed to grow to be an officer at an early age, who had no complaints in opposition to her and who did not search to maneuver up the ranks as a result of she preferred engaged on the streets.

Whereas the consultants believed Potter’s tears had been real, that they had blended views on how her feelings might need performed for the jury.

“It was virtually gut-wrenching truly to observe, significantly on cross. Her facial expressions appeared like she was actively reliving the trauma of the expertise,” stated Rachel Moran, a professor on the College of St. Thomas Faculty of Regulation.

Moran stated it’s arduous to not consider that Potter is horrified and sorry for what she has completed. However whereas some folks may empathize with Potter, others may take difficulty with the truth that she wanted comforting after the capturing when the main focus ought to have been on Wright, Moran stated.

Moran stated the truth that her legal professionals didn’t get into Potter’s mindset was “unusual,” saying she believes one of many first questions that ought to’ve been requested was whether or not Potter meant to shoot Wright.

Consultants stated Erin Eldridge, the prosecutor who questioned Potter, was usually sturdy in cross-examination.

Brandt stated Potter got here throughout as too defensive and barely combative when she gave brief solutions to Eldridge, however he stated Eldridge began trying like a “bully” when Potter started crying. Moran stated Eldridge wasn’t significantly aggressive, however saved “bulldozing” by means of her cross-examination, whilst Potter had what Moran referred to as a “seen breakdown.” She stated it is arduous to say how that may play with the jury.

Moran additionally stated that Potter’s rapid response to the capturing, which is seen on the police movies, reveals she knew she did one thing horribly flawed and didn’t intend to make use of her gun. She stated Eldridge was sturdy in establishing that in her cross-examination.

Notably, Eldridge at one level obtained Potter to agree that she didn’t plan to make use of lethal power — Potter’s attorneys have been arguing that even when this wasn’t a mistake, Potter would have been justified in utilizing lethal power as a result of she feared Johnson’s life was at risk.

Baker stated one other spotlight was when Eldridge walked Potter by means of the physique digicam video and confirmed Potter what she did.

“It was actually damning when she obtained the video of the freeze body of her along with her hand on what gave the impression to be her weapon as she was nonetheless standing by and about to come back in,” Baker stated. “I feel she did an ideal job of impeaching her.”

Baker stated if the jurors had begun deliberating shortly after Potter’s testimony, her emotional show might need had extra of an impact. He stated having the weekend between her testimony and shutting arguments offers jurors far.

Authorized consultants stated Potter’s testimony wasn’t as sturdy as they anticipated it to be.

Baker stated the protection spent an excessive amount of time on the justification for the visitors cease, and there wasn’t sufficient give attention to the moments when she pulled out her gun as a substitute of her Taser. Baker stated Potter did not present any clarification of what she did at that second, one thing he referred to as “problematic for the protection.”

Halberg added on Friday: “I believed right this moment was going to be the knockout punch. However that was not the case.”


Discover the AP’s full protection of the Daunte Wright case:

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