Legal experts say body camera footage will play central role in Potter trial

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The moments leading up to Daunte Wright’s death were played for the world when the Brooklyn Center Police Department released video captured by former officer Kimberly Potter’s body camera. The Department shared video of the traffic stop on April 12, 2021, a day after the shooting happened.

“There’s a video at the center of it,” said Mark Osler, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. “It’s something that all of us probably have already seen in real time and that is, in the end, what the defense is probably going to stand on, and what the prosecution has to fight through.”

Potter faces first degree manslaughter and second degree manslaughter charges for the death of Wright.

The video will be one of two of the most important pieces of evidence in Potter’s trial, according to retired Hennepin County District Court Judge Kevin Burke.

“One, the video you can actually see,” said Burke. “And two, the defendant’s testimony.”

Potter told Judge Chu last week that she plans to take the stand. The jury will have to wait to hear from her until the defense presents its case, which happens after the state presents its case. The video, however, could be shown as early as Wednesday during opening statements.

“The obvious is you’re going to hear from both sides as to what they’re going to present,” said Burke. “I think you’re going to hear from the state, that they’re going to present the video.”

We asked experienced trial attorney Lee Hutton, who is not affiliated with the case, about the role the video will have during the trial.

“The video speaks 1,000 words,” said Hutton. “But we’ve seen trials where the video has been very pristine, very clear and you can have several different individuals take different conclusions from that same video. I don’t think the video alone can stand for itself and this is where the witnesses are going to say ‘This is where she has the Taser on her non-dominant side, this is where the gun is on the dominant side’.”

He expects the defense will argue the shooting was a mistake. Potter is represented by Earl Gray and Paul Engh.

“I would think that Attorney Gray is also going to pinpoint and see if he can shift some of the responsibility for the stop not going smoothly onto Daunte Wright. We’ll see how much that is accepted by the jury because of course, this was just a routine traffic stop that ultimately ended up in a person’s death.”