Former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter has been found guilty of first- and second-degreemanslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.
The outcome comes after jurors deliberated for more than 27 hours. Jurors on Tuesday asked the judge for guidance on what to do if they could not reach a unanimous decision, and the judge directed them to continue deliberating.
Potter, 49, fatally shot 20-year-old Wright during an April traffic stop-turned-arrest in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.
Prosecutors said Potter, a veteran Brooklyn Center Police officer, recklessly handled her firearm and caused Wright’s death through her “culpable negligence” – a conscious and disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
Defense attorneys said Potter mistook her firearm for a Taser but was justified in using deadly force to prevent another officer from being injured.
A predominantly white jury heard closing arguments in the case and began deliberating Monday afternoon.
Jury selection in the case began in November. Prosecutors presented their case over the course of six days earlier this month, offering eyewitness testimony, dozens of police and body camera videos and scores of slides and training documents on use-of-force policies, Tasers and more.
The defense called multiple witnesses over the course of two days, concluding with Potter’s testimony. Potter cried on the stand Friday as she recounted the “chaotic” moment she shot Wright.
“We were struggling. We were trying to keep him from driving away. It just went chaotic,” Potter testified. “And then, I remember yelling ‘Taser, Taser, Taser’ and nothing happened. And then (Wright) told me I shot him.”
Potter shot Wright just miles from the ongoing murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, later convicted of murdering George Floyd. The incident set off multiple days of protests and looting in the area and inflamed nationwide tensions over police violence in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he was prepared to ask the National Guard to respond to assist local law enforcement during the trial “out of an abundance of caution.” Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Center School Board extended winter break in anticipation of the conclusion of the trial, according to school officials.
Grace Hauck | USA TODAY