Closing arguments set for ex-officer in Daunte Wright death

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Closing arguments are scheduled to take place Monday in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter.

Potter is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black motorist who was pulled over in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center for having expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.

Potter took the stand Friday and broke down in tears multiple times, including when she recalled the moment she shot Wright. Potter, who was training another officer at the time, said she probably wouldn’t have pulled Wright’s car over if she had been on her own that day. After that initial encounter, the traffic stop "just went chaotic," she testified.

The video showed the entire altercation when Wright was pulled over by Potter, and two other officers.

Potter eventually shot and killed Wright, and her main point of defense is that it was an accident and that she meant to grab her Taser.

Despite the emotion, Mark Osler, a former prosecutor and current law professor at the University of St. Thomas, believes the video footage of what happened after the shooting is the defense’s strongest evidence.

"We can expect the defense to go to the video to what shows that she made a genuine mistake, that it was an error, and nothing intentional. The video of the incident is going to have more of an impact than what she said on the stand," said Osler.

As for Potter’s testimony, Osler feels there could be concern from jurors about whether it was genuine. He also says the state will have a tougher time with its closing arguments because they will have to dive into the specifics about the law, covering the two manslaughter charges.

Osler expects the closing arguments could wrap up as soon as Monday. The case will go into the jury’s hands after they receive instructions from Judge Regina Chu.

Judge Chu has already told jurors she won’t make them deliberate on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. They will return after the holiday if they haven’t reached a verdict by them.

Court is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m.

KSTP’s complete trial coverage

Wright’s death set off angry demonstrations for several days in Brooklyn Center. It happened as another white officer, Derek Chauvin, was standing trial in nearby Minneapolis for the killing of George Floyd.

State sentencing guidelines call for just over seven years in prison upon conviction of first-degree manslaughter and four years for second-degree, though prosecutors have said they plan to push for longer sentences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.