Jury selections begins Tuesday in the trial of a suburban Minneapolis police officer who says she meant to use her Taser instead of her gun when she killed Daunte Wright.
The prospective jurors in former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter's manslaughter trial have already responded to questionnaires similar to those used this year in Derek Chauvin's murder trial for the killing of George Floyd. Roughly 200 people were asked to provide extensive information on what they already know about the Potter case and whether they have positive or negative impressions about her and Wright.
Potter shot Wright as he tried to drive away from a traffic stop on April 11 — a time when Chauvin's trial had begun and tensions were already high in the Minneapolis area. Wright's death sparked several nights of protests in Brooklyn Center, which revived painful memories of the sometimes violent unrest that erupted after Floyd's death in May 2020.
When attorneys begin sifting through potential jurors on Tuesday, they're expected to take a hard look at their attitudes toward policing, protests, and the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements.
Many of the questions were identical at Chauvin's trial, where jury selection took 11 days. Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu's timeline for Potter's trial includes six days for jury selection, with opening statements set for Dec. 8.
Potter's defense team can dismiss up to five jurors without giving a reason, compared with three for the prosecution, which is standard in Minnesota courts.
Potter says she made an innocent mistake when she shot Wright. She and two other officers at the scene, including one she was training, moved to arrest Wright after learning there was an arrest warrant out for him on a gross misdemeanor charge.
As the 20-year-old Black man tried to drive off, Potter, who is white, can be heard on her body camera video saying "Taser, taser, taser" before she fired, followed by "I grabbed the wrong (expletive) gun." The video shows her holding her handgun for about five seconds before firing.
Prosecutors charged Potter, who resigned two days after the shooting, with first- and second-degree manslaughter, saying she was an experienced officer who was trained to know better. The most serious charge requires prosecutors to prove recklessness; the lesser only requires them to prove culpable negligence.
Minnesota's sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of just over seven years on the first-degree manslaughter count, and four years for second-degree. But prosecutors have said they'll seek a longer sentence.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.