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Mostly White Jury Seated in Daunte Wright Trial

White police officer said she meant to fire her Taser, not her handgun
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 3, 2021 3:45 PM CST
Mostly White Jury Seated in Daunte Wright Trial
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presides over jury selection Friday at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.   (Court TV, via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – A predominantly white jury was seated Friday for the trial of a white suburban Minneapolis police officer who said she drew her handgun by mistake—intending to use her Taser—when she fatally shot Black motorist Daunte Wright following a traffic stop. Nine of the first 12 jurors seated for Kim Potter's trial are white; that breakdown is roughly in line with the demographics of surrounding Hennepin County but notably less diverse than the jury that convicted former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin this spring in the death of George Floyd, the AP reports.

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Potter, 49, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 shooting in the suburb of Brooklyn Center. Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday. Legal experts have said juries that are diverse by race, gender, and economic background are necessary to minimize bias in the legal system. The Chauvin jury that was split 50-50 between whites and people of color was "mostly just luck of the draw," said Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul. He said racial and ethnic diversity matters in terms of the perceived legitimacy of the jury, but attitudes about police and policing are much more important for the case's outcome.

A jury consultant said even a single juror of color can change the dynamics of deliberations by bringing another viewpoint to the process. Of the first 12 jurors seated—the ones who will deliberate if no alternates are needed—one juror identifies as Black and two as Asian. The panel is evenly split between men and women. The two alternates also are white. Attorneys and the judge spent considerable time probing potential jurors for their views of protests against police brutality, which were frequent in Minneapolis even before George Floyd's death.

(Read more Daunte Wright stories.)

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