MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Testimony enters its third day in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, who is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.
After a day of new body camera footage from the day of the incident and compelling testimony from Wright’s passenger in the vehicle, the state is calling more witnesses to the stand.
Below are updates, beginning with the latest.
UPDATE (11:25 a.m.) — Prosecution opened the day with the testimony of Major Mychal Johnson, who was a patrol supervisor on the day of the shooting. He left the Brooklyn Center Police Department in October of 2021, and currently works for the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office.
Johnson was Potter’s supervisor on April 11, and said he arrived on scene after Officer Luckey and Potter pulled over Daunte Wright’s car. After a conversation with Luckey, he learned Wright had a gross misdemeanor warrant for a weapons possession and determined that Luckey would arrest Wright.
Throughout the testimony, Attorney Matthew Frank shows Johnson’s body camera and squad car footage, starting with the moment Johnson arrives on scene.
Johnson explained he approached Wright’s car with the two other officers. He was on the passenger side and opened the door to make sure the car was in a “park” position.
He said Luckey told Wright to get out of the car, which he did, but Wright eventually got back into the car after learning he was under arrest. Johnson reached over and grabbed Wright’s arm, heard the verbal command of “Taser Taser Taser,” and then said he “heard a loud pop,” which he believed at the time was the pop of the Taser.
He learned that Potter fired her gun after Wright drove away and Potter said she had shot him. Then, realizing he would be an “involved officer” in the shooting, called for backup and another supervisor to take over the scene.
In the body camera video, Potter asks Johnson to “call Chuck,” who, according to Johnson, is Potter’s union representative. The defense objects to discussion about Potter’s union membership, arguing that it is irrelevant. After a brief sidebar, Judge Chu rules that Potter’s union status is not relevant, and tells the jury to disregard any testimony about it.
Frank then continues to play Johnson’s body camera video, during which Potter can be heard saying “let me kill myself.”
Johnson said he told another officer to stay with Potter, and explains that he took the ammunition out of his gun and swapped it with Potter’s. The gun Potter used was in Johnson’s holster until it was taken into evidence by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Chu then decides to take a mid-morning break. After the jury leaves the room, she tells the prosecution that she will start regularly sustaining objections from the defense to video evidence that is cumulative.
UPDATE (8:15 a.m.) — The pool reporter in court Friday has confirmed that the prosecution will introduce into evidence autopsy photos of Daunte Wright, and they will be shown in court as lawyers question the medical examiner.
The photos will be shown in the courtroom but will not be transmitted or published beyond there.
UPDATE (6 a.m.) — The first week of testimony in the Kim Potter trial will wrap up Friday after jurors saw lots of bodycam footage of what happened after the shooting.
After the jury walked out, the defense asked the judge for a mistrial. They say most of the evidence presented had nothing to do with the case against former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank pointed out that the state is seeking an aggravated sentence for Potter if she’s convicted, and to do so must show the wider impact of her actions. Judge Regina Chu quickly dismissed the motion, though she did tell prosecutors to avoid showing the jury duplicate autopsy pictures.
Frank, the prosecutor, said the post-shooting evidence is aimed at showing that Potter’s actions created a danger to others beyond Wright — something the state will have to prove as it seeks a longer sentence for Potter than is called for under the state’s guidelines.
Chu ruled that the state must eliminate duplicate autopsy photos, and that any images of Wright with his eyes open must be blacked out above the nose.
“The jury is not supposed to be deciding this case based upon sympathy, passion or anything of that sort,” she said.
Earlier, for the very first time, we heard from the woman in the passenger seat when Daunte Wright was pulled over and shot by police, Alayna Albrecht-Payton.
“He had his arms folded and he was just gasping,” she testified. “I replay that image in my head daily.”
Albrecht-Payton also apologized to Katie Bryant, Wright’s mother, who had called his phone trying to re-establish contact after a call with him was cut off right before he was shot. Bryant testified tearfully a day earlier that she first saw her son’s apparently lifeless body via that video call.
“I pointed the camera on him,” Albrecht-Payton said. “And I’m so sorry I did that.”
The prosecution also entered a lot of graphic video evidence and photos from the officers who first arrived on the scene after Wright had crashed his car.
The trial will start up again Friday at 10 a.m.
First-degree manslaughter requires prosecutors to prove Potter acted recklessly. Second-degree requires them to prove culpable negligence. Neither charge requires proof that she intended to kill. State sentencing guidelines call for just over seven years in prison on the first charge and four years on the other.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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Source: CBS Minnesota