Kim Potter Trial Day 4: Medical examiner on Wright's death, witness demonstrates Taser
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The trial of Kim Potter, the Brooklyn Center police officer charged in the killing of Daunte Wright, enters its second week, with Day 4 of testimony in Minneapolis. The former Brooklyn Center police officer is charged with manslaughter in the killing of Daunte Wright for firing her gun instead of her taser. FOX 9 is streaming the Potter trial live, gavel to gavel, at fox9.com/live and on the FOX 9 YouTube channel and the FOX 9 News App.
Medical examiner takes the stand
The Hennepin County assistant medical examiner, Dr. Lorren Jackson, was first to testify Monday. He told the court the gunshot wound to Daunte Wright's chest is what caused his death, with injuries to his heart and lungs.
"Far and away the gunshot wound to the chest was the most significant injury," Dr. Jackson said.
THC not a factor in Daunte Wright's death
Dr. Jackson confirmed the information in his report that Wright had THC in his systems from smoking marijuana, but that it wasn’t a factor in his death. Under cross-examination from defense attorney Earl Gray, Jackson testified the level of THC metabolites in Wright's blood – 43 nanograms – was "on the high end" of what he sees, but normal for a marijuana user. He added that he has never seen a fatal marijuana overdose.
Autopsy photos shown in court
Jurors were shown graphic images of Daunte Wright's body from the scene of the shooting, as well as autopsy photos from the medical examiner. These photos were not displayed on the livestream of the trial.
Witness demonstrates Taser handgun
Much of the testimony and evidence presented on Monday was procedural, with the medical examiner and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents testifying as witnesses for the state.
Jurors were shown photos of Potter's gun and Taser along with her duty belt, showing the spots on separate sides of the belt where the holsters for the gun and Taser were set.
BCA Senior Special Agent Sam McGinnis testified that Potter had her gun and Taser both position for "straight draws," with Potter using her dominant hand for her service weapon and her left hand for the Taser. In order to release either weapon, Potter had to press snaps.
Agent McGinnis also demonstrated how Potter's Taser would have to be activated for use. Agent McGinnis said his investigation also found that Potter had failed to perform function tests on the Taser in the two days leading up to the shooting. A function test is required before each shift in the department.
Agent McGinnis also walked jurors through how the Taser would have felt different in Potter's hands than her Glock handgun. The Taser also has LED lights and a laser on it while the handgun is bare.
Differences between a Taser and a gun
Prosecutors at one point wanted the jury to handle the Taser, just to give it a feel. The defense objected and Judge Regina Chu agreed but did say a sample Taser, similar to the one Potter had on her duty belt during the traffic stop back in April, will go into the deliberation room for jurors to hold at that point.
During his testimony, Agent McGinnis how Potter could have known she was handling the wrong weapon based on feel. First, the gun would be heavier than the Taser. The grip of the weapon would have been noticeable as well, McGinnis explained, saying the handle for the Taser is shorter and wider than the Glock. The Taser is also blocky and yellow compared to the sleeker and entirely black handgun.
The texturing on the grips are also different, McGinnis added, with different trigger mechanism.
Later this week: Slip and capture defense
Later this week, the defense is expected to call Dr. Laurence Miller to testify about the theory of "slip and capture", where an officer under "stress" reverts to habit and grabs their gun instead of their TASER. The prosecution attempted to block Dr. Miller from testifying saying his testimony would not be relevant to the jury. Judge Chu ruled Miller can testify, but can only speak about the "slip and capture" theory in broad terms. He cannot testify whether he believes Potter experienced it at the time of the shooting.
READ NEXT: What to know about the Kim Potter trial
Kim Potter, 49, is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on April 11. The defense claims the shooting was an accident, that Potter, who is white, mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her Taser when she fatally shot Wright. But, prosecutors say Potter was reckless and negligent and should go to prison.
The deadly shooting sparked days of protests outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
Potter’s defense team said the former officer will take the stand in her own defense.
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Kim Potter trial jury
The following jurors have been seated on the jury:
- Juror No. 2: White man in his 50s. Works as an editor in neurology dealing with medical evidence. Testified that he has an unfavorable view of "Blue Lives Matter." Has always wanted to serve on a jury.
- Juror No. 6: White woman in her 60s. Retired special education teacher. She lost one of her four children two years ago to breast cancer.
- Juror No. 7: White man, 29 years old. Overnight operations manager at Target and bass guitar player in a local alternative rock band. Took a firearms safety class when he was a teenager.
- Juror No. 11: Asian woman in her 40s. Works in downtown Minneapolis and said she was concerned about the unrest following the killing of George Floyd.
- Juror No. 17: White woman in her 20s. Has little prior knowledge about the case or legal system.
- Juror No. 19: Black woman in her 30s. Mother of two and a teacher. Owns a gun with a permit and a Taser for personal protection.
- Juror No. 21: White man in his 40s. Father with previous experience serving on a jury.
- Juror No. 22: White man in his 60s. Registered nurse for over 25 years, currently studying to be nurse practitioner. Gun owner. He also manages properties.
- Juror No. 26: Asian woman in her 20s. She is in school and has finals and job interviews coming up, but said she was willing to serve if selected.
- Juror No. 40: White man in his 40s. Participated in the police explorers program in high school, but ultimately decided not to pursue a career in law enforcement because he was afraid of having to fire a gun.
- Juror No. 48: White woman in her 40s. Mother of 2 school-age children. Former IT project manager. Grew up on a farm outside Minnesota.
- Juror No. 55: White man in his 50s. Field engineer in cybersecurity. Navy veteran. Gun owner. Enjoys partaking in Renaissance "steel weapons fighting."
- Juror No. 57: White woman in her 70s. Mother with children in their 40s. She has served on two prior juries.
- Juror No. 58: White man in his 30s. Father of young child. Lives in Eden Prairie. He has a close friend who is a St. Paul police officer.