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Kim Potter Trial, Dec. 20 Live Updates: Defense Says ‘Daunte Wright Caused His Own Death’

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Closing arguments in the Kim Potter trial are underway Monday morning.

The former Brooklyn Center police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright is charged with manslaughter. She has said she meant to use her Taser instead of her handgun.

Below are updates, beginning with the latest.


UPDATE (11:50 a.m.): During the defense’s closing argument, attorney Earl Gray argued that “Daunte Wright caused his own death, unfortunately.”

Gray argued the jury must find his client, Kim Potter, not guilty, because Wright’s actions during the traffic stop were a “superseding cause” of death that makes Potter not criminally liable.

He also argued that Potter is innocent of the first-degree manslaughter charge, because of the element of committing a “conscious or intentional act.”

“How could she have recklessly handled a firearm if she didn’t even know she had one?” Gray said.

Potter’s defense attorney again brought up the concept of “action error,” which a defense expert testified was doing one thing when meaning to do another. He reiterated the defense’s assertion that Potter killing Wright was a mistake.

“A mistake is not a crime,” Gray said. “In the walk of life, nobody’s perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. Some of those mistakes are small mistakes, but some of them are very serious.”

Gray told the jury that this is “a very emotional case, but you have to look at the law and evidence.”

“[The state] failed in every element,” he continued. “Miserably failed. and I hope that you come to the fair conclusion of not guilty, based on the evidence.”

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UPDATE (10:35 a.m.): During the state’s closing argument, Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge told the jury the Kim Potter trial is about “the defendant’s actions, not Daunte Wright’s.”

The state replayed parts of bodycam footage of the shooting for the jury, and ran through every element of the manslaughter charges against Potter.

The first-degree manslaughter charge includes the element that a death must have been caused by the “reckless handling or use of a firearm.”

“She drew a deadly weapon, she aimed it, she pointed it at Daunte Wright’s chest and she fired,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge attacked the defense’s argument that Potter feared for her fellow officer’s life, prompting her to draw what she says she thought was her Taser.

“The defendant didn’t save Sgt. Johnson’s life,” Eldridge said. “If anybody saved Sgt. Johnson’s life, it was Daunte Wright when he took a bullet to the chest.”

The prosecution also went after the defense’s repeated assertion that Potter made a mistake that did not amount to a crime.

“An accidental killing is still a crime if the defendant’s actions are reckless or culpably negligent,” Eldridge said. “Human nature did not kill Daunte Wright. The defendant did.”

“It was a tragedy of her own making. And it’s not just a tragedy, it’s manslaughter,” Eldridge continued. “She chose right instead of left. She chose wrong instead of right. She chose her gun and she shot and killed Daunte Wright.”

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UPDATE (9:20 a.m.): After Judge Regina Chu gave the jury their instructions, Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge has begun the state’s closing argument.

“The defendant told you her sons will be home for the holidays,” Eldridge began. “You know who won’t be home for the holidays is Daunte Wright.”

READ MORE: ‘The Facts Really Aren’t Disputed’: The Key Points To Be Made In Kim Potter Trial’s Closing Arguments

UPDATE (9 a.m.): Potter took the stand on Friday, breaking down during questioning by both the defense and prosecution.

“I remember yelling ‘Taser! Taser! Taster!’ and nothing happened. And then [Wright] told me I shot him,” Potter said as the defense walked her through the shooting.

During the state’s cross-examination, Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge questioned Potter about her reaction after the shooting. After Potter earlier testified a fellow officer “had a look of fear on his face” during the scuffle that was “nothing I’d seen before,” Eldridge made the point Potter did not check in on that officer after shooting Wright. Nor did she attempt to provide aid to Wright, Eldridge said.

“I’m sorry it happened,” Potter said. “I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”

After closing arguments, Potter’s fate will be in the hands of the jury. They will be sequestered during deliberations. Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is unaffiliated with the Potter trial, said he believes there will be a verdict before the holiday weekend.

Source: CBS Minnesota

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