The defense team rests on the trial of a former police officer for the shooting death of Daunte Wright
A Minneapolis suburban police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright testified in her manslaughter trial Friday that she would not have stopped her car if she had not been training another officer and had not planned to use it. the deadly force that day.
Under the questioning of a prosecutor, Kim Potter cried during her sometimes emotional testimony, sometimes saying “I didn’t want to hurt anyone” and later, “I’m sorry it happened.”
Potter was the last witness before the defense rested at the end of the second week of testimony. She said she shot Wright on April 11 at the Brooklyn Center in a moment of chaos after he tried to leave the scene while she and other officers were trying to arrest him with a pending warrant for a gun violation.
Potter, 49, said he wanted to use his Taser to subdue Wright when he walked away from officers and returned to his car, but shot him once with his pistol.
Potter’s lawyers argued that he had made a mistake, but that it would also have been justified to use lethal force if he had wanted to do so because another officer was at risk of being dragged by Wright’s car. Potter stated that he decided to use his Taser because of the frightened look that one of the other two eyes of the officer saw.
Potter said he shouted, “Taser!” repeatedly for the other officers, who were trying to get Wright out of his car, to take off.
Prosecutors say Potter was an experienced officer who had extensive training in the use of Taser and the use of lethal force, and that his actions were unreasonable.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Erin Eldridge drove hard to Potter’s training, making her accept that her training in the use of force was a “key component” to being an officer. Potter testified that she was also trained on when to use force and how much to use, and that there was a policy that dictated what agents could or could not do.
Potter was shown photos of his Taser and gun next to each other. The Taser was yellow and his weapon was black. Eldridge noted that the loaded weapon is heavier than the Taser.
“So you went out with a Taser, not knowing what that Taser did?” Eldridge asked Potter.
“I suppose the day I worked, I would know. But I don’t know, months ago now,” Potter replied.
Potter testified at the interrogation of one of his attorneys that he had no training in “gun confusion,” saying he was mentioned in training, but that it was not something his department officers were trained to do. physically. He also said he never used a Taser while on duty during his 26 years in the force, although he had withdrawn it a few times, and that he never used his weapon until the day he shot Wright.
Potter, who was training Officer Anthony Luckey, said Luckey noticed Wright’s car in a turning lane with the signal improperly on and then saw an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror as well as expired tags.
She said Luckey wanted to stop the vehicle, though she “probably” wouldn’t have done so if she had been patrolling on her own, citing Minnesota drivers’ long delays in renewing vehicle labels at the time of the pandemic. But he said that after finding that Wright had a court order for a gun violation, he was forced to arrest him because the order “was a court order.”
He said they also had to find out who Wright’s passenger was because a woman, it turned out, had taken a restraining order against him.
Although defense attorney Earl Gray told her what happened that day, she didn’t ask if she wanted to draw her Taser. A prosecution witness stated earlier this week that he would not have decided to use his Taser if he believed there was a danger that could result in death or serious bodily injury.
Potter, who resigned two days after the shooting, burst into tears when he said the traffic stop “had become chaotic” after Wright tried to get back in his car and leave. She cried when she described the shooting and got excited when Eldridge played the video of her pointing her gun at Wright. For most of the cross-examination, she was sincere and gave brief answers.
Asked by her own lawyer, Potter said she did not remember everything that happened after the shooting, including what she said or was in an ambulance.
“Missing a lot,” he said of his memory.
He said he has been in therapy since the shooting and left Minnesota and is no longer a police officer. And he said he left the police force because “so many bad things were happening … He didn’t want anything bad to happen to him in the city.”
“A big mistake”
Before Potter took office, a witness called by his lawyers testified that police officers may erroneously pull out their weapons instead of their Tasers in high-stress situations because their entrenched training takes over.
Laurence Miller, a psychologist who teaches at Florida Atlantic University, said Friday that the more someone repeats the same act, the less they will have to think about it and there may be circumstances during a stressful situation where someone’s normal reactions can be “kidnapped.” “
Wright’s death sparked outrage for several days at the Brooklyn Center. It happened when another white officer, Derek Chauvin, was on trial in Minneapolis for the murder of George Floyd.
Miller said that when a person learns a new skill, the memory of an old skill could override it, leading to an “error of action” in which a planned action has an unwanted effect.
“You intend to do one thing, think you do it, but do something else and only realize later that the action you intended was not the one you did,” he said.
Some experts are skeptical of the theory. Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina who is not involved in the Potter trial, said there is no science behind it.
In an interrogation, Eldridge read to Miller a 2010 article he wrote in which he described how police can avoid what he called a “big mistake.” He wrote that many of these mistakes can be prevented by proper training and practice.
The defense began its case on Thursday. The case is being heard by a mostly white jury.