Before Shooting, Potter Testifies, 'It Just Went Chaotic'

Former police officer recounts moments leading up to Daunte Wright's death
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2021 5:15 PM CST
Before Shooting, Potter Testifies, 'It Just Went Chaotic'
Amity Dimock points to her shirt depicting the booking photo of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter outside the Hennepin County Courthouse on Friday.   (AP Photo/Christian Monterrosa)

(Newser) – Kim Potter testified in her own defense on Friday, recounting how a Minnesota traffic stop turned into the shooting death of Daunte Wright. Potter was a police officer for Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, when she and another officer pulled Wright over in April. While being held by officers, Potter told the court, Wright, 20, broke free and got back into his car, NBC reports. "We were trying to keep him from driving away. It just, it just went chaotic," Potter said. Sgt. Mychal Johnson reached into the car and tried to keep Wright from putting the car in gear, she testified.

"I can see Johnson's hand, and then I can see his face" as he struggled with Wright, Potter said. "He had a look of fear in his face," she added before beginning to cry on the stand, per the Wall Street Journal. Potter shot Wright with her 9mm handgun; her lawyers said she intended to use her stun gun. The former officer is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter. "I remember yelling, 'Taser. Taser. Taser,'" Potter said Friday. "And nothing happened." Johnson then told her she'd shot Wright, she testified. Potter is white; Wright was Black.

Potter's testimony was specific and detailed about why Wright was pulled over, less so about the moments before she shot him, per the Journal. An officer she was training made the decision to stop the car, she said, because it had expired licensed plate tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. Had she not been with a trainee, Potter said, she probably would not have stopped Wright, because the air freshener was such a minor issue. Also, many car owners during the pandemic shutdown weren't able to renew their license plate tags. Prosecutors, who rested their case Thursday, told the jury it doesn't have to find the killing was intentional to convict Potter. (Read more Kim Potter stories.)

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