LIVE UPDATES: 3rd day of jury selection in Potter trial wraps up, 2 more jurors needed
With 12 jurors seated at the end of Day 3, Judge Chu ended proceedings for the day. Two alternate jurors are still needed to complete the panel.
Potential juror No. 55 says his wife was the victim of an attempted carjacking in south Minneapolis last year and was pistol-whipped but the culprits haven’t been found. He says the suspects were young Hispanic or African-American men but says that won’t affect his ability to be impartial in this case. He says he was in the Navy and volunteered to be shocked by a stun gun in training about 30 years ago. He says he and his wife started a flag football program for Minneapolis parks. If chosen, he says he’d do it, despite having a little anxiety because he’s never been on a jury.
Juror No. 55 said in his questionnaire that the situation between Potter and Wright seemed "complex and stressful" based on a video of the encounter. He said he watched the video once and said he could put his initial impression of the video aside as a juror.
He also said he supports common-sense reforms in law enforcement and clarified that he doesn’t want to get rid of police but "augment what we have" with mental health professionals. He believes there is a problem of systemic racism but told Engh he could set that aside while hearing this case. He also answered on his questionnaire that he held an unfavorable opinion about "blue lives matter" because "you can choose your vocation, but you can’t choose your skin color."
He owns two shotguns, two handguns and a rifle but said he does not have a permit to carry.
Both the defense and the state accepted Juror No. 55, and he became the 12th juror seated on the panel.
Potential juror No. 52 walks in to be questioned at 4 p.m. She says her friend was in a vehicle (and wasn’t driving) that was involved in a hit-and-run. Later, she says Potter questioned her friend not about the hit-and-run but about her Black boyfriend (who wasn’t in the vehicle), questioned why she’d be with him and called him "a bad influence." She notes that she was not there for that questioning but her friend told her that and she believes her. She also says she’s had personal issues with the police, noting the police "killed her uncle" and "hasn’t treated her family right." She also said she lived close to where the incident happened, and said she couldn’t be fair. She was then excused by Chu for cause.
At 3:24 p.m., potential juror No. 51 enters and starts individual questioning. Her brother-in-law is in the Minnesota National Guard and was outside the courthouse for Derek Chauvin’s trial. She says his experience doesn’t affect her at all. She says "there’s a lot of polarization right now" and there are many who are extreme on both sides, so it’s a bit scary to possibly be a juror. She adds that she’s worried about being on camera but Chu assures her that won’t happen at any point. She also says it’s not fair to base her decisions on anyone’s opinion because they weren’t there. She says her brother-in-law was arrested but the case is still pending. Additionally, she says she has friends who are police officers but that won’t affect her feelings toward law enforcement. She got a degree in criminal justice in 2008 with a focus in forensic science. She also has a sister who worked as a law clerk and another who works to get supplies for a sheriff’s office. One of her aunts and uncles were robbed in the past and the culprit was never found. She did serve on a jury regarding a drug offense case, which she called "enlightening." She expressed some concerns about what will be released about her after the trial and says she will serve if needed but she’d rather not.
After one of the more lenghty questioning processes by Chu, lasting about 20 minutes, Gray takes over. Potential juror No. 51 says she likes the legal system and how it functions so she’s willing to serve but still would rather not. She calls it "an emotionally charged issue." She adds that her work in fraud at a bank makes her "painfully aware" of computer vulnerability and how they can be hacked. When Gray starts to mention the possibility of protests in the streets if Potter is found not guilty, Frank objects and they call a sidebar that lasts about five minutes. Gray then continues with other questions. She details an incident involving her cousin when she thought an officer acted unprofessionally. Asked about potentially not hearing from Potter, she says she’d wonder why not but could still be impartial.
Gray then says the defense is using the fourth of its five peremptory strikes and Chu informs the juror she’s excused.
Potential juror No. 48 — a white woman in her 30s or 40s — is up next. On her questionnaire, she said Wright’s death didn’t match the alleged crime but she says she can put aside her opinion and decide just on the facts if selected as a juror. She says she knows some prosecutors and some defense attorneys but none in Minnesota, and she says they wouldn’t impact her at all. She adds that she’s willing to serve and will be fair.
Gray takes over after about five minutes. Potential juror No. 48 says she’s seen some media reports on Wright’s death but says she can block that out. She adds that she attended a rally protesting children in cages at the border. She notes she has two young children. Her couple of past interactions with police have left her satisfied, everyone did what they were supposed to, she says. She says she’s a little nervous around anyone in a position of authority, not just police. She did work as an IT project manager. She hasn’t served on a jury before. She reiterates that she can be fair and impartial.
Frank takes over questioning at 2:52 p.m. She notes her dad and other family members were or are avid hunters and she’s been around guns before. She also had two grandfathers who served in the military but it wasn’t a large part of their relationship.
After just a few minutes, Frank passes the juror and Chu informs her that she will serve on this jury, making her the 11th juror seated in the case.
Chu also then rules on the state’s Batson challenge regarding potential juror No. 46, alleging that the defense used a peremptory strike on her because of her race or gender. Chu says she found no indication that the defense dismissed the juror simply over her race or gender.
Chu then puts the court in recess for a 20-minute afternoon break.
At 2:10 p.m., all potential jurors except potential juror No. 46, a young Asian woman, leave the room and individual questioning resumes. She says her slightly negative impression of Potter is due to the loss of life but says she doesn’t know anything else about the case or Potter. She’s in administration in a municipality and has had interactions with police leadership for her job but says those have all been positive. Her car was also broken into at some point and she says she’s satisfied with how police handled that. She’s also a law student and is interested in public policy. She says she wants to be a juror in this case and will be fair and impartial.
Engh then takes over questioning. She says she briefly watched parts of the video of Wright’s death one time. She wrote on her questionnaire that she supports police and criminal justice reform, saying more equity is needed across all government entities. Some of that, she says, is allocating resources differently and more community partnerships but all departments are different. She adds that the place she works looks at departments and how they can integrate with communities. She notes that there’s a very important distinction between opinions on police reform and ruling based on facts, as a juror must do, and says she’d be impartial. She says "blue lives matter" is a relevant place to share their opinions but it’s a profession, they can take off their uniforms at the end of the day, unlike people of color and their race. Of the jury system, she says, it’s made of humans, who have bias, so it’s not a perfect way to judge someone’s guilt. Asked by Engh about all of her feelings on police reform and the justice system and whether she’s able to just look at the facts and presume innocence, she says she’s able to. Engh says his review of her social media comments uncovered some posts negative toward police but she disagrees and says she’s commented just on specific cases and not police as a whole.
Engh then says the defense is using its third of five peremptory strikes and Chu informs the juror she’s excused.
At 1:30 p.m., the court reconvened and started off by questioning Juror No. 7, who was seated Tuesday but was identified by defense attorney Earl Gray by name and also asked other identifying questions. The moment wasn’t allowed to be streamed live, however, the pool reporter in the courtroom was allowed to remain and report back on what took place. More information on that will be released later Thursday.
UPDATE: Chu started off by questioning Juror No. 7, who was seated Tuesday but was identified by defense attorney Earl Gray by name and also asked other identifying questions. The moment wasn’t allowed to be streamed live but court reporters were allowed to remain and report on the questioning. The juror told Chu he had concerns because his "phone started blowing up" after he was initially questioned and he "was just freaked out." He added that he didn’t know his questioning was being broadcast live. However, he said he’s still willing to be a juror and said nobody that he didn’t know contacted him. He added that he felt "much more comfortable" after expressing his concerns to Chu. Gray also apologized for saying the juror’s name and Frank asks if he can remain impartial. The juror says he won’t hold it against Gray and that he will remain impartial. He was allowed to remain as a juror.
At 1:48 p.m., a new panel of potential jurors was called in, sworn in and had the process of the trial and jury selection explained to them by Chu.
At 11:33 a.m., potential juror No. 40 — a white man in his 40s — is called in. In the 1990s, he acted as a liaison with the police department and his high school. He says they were limited interactions but he attended weekly meetings with officers present. He also noted he was accused of a crime at one point but believes he was treated fairly and "got what I deserved." On the questionnaire, he said he "feels bad for jurors" and explains he’s never served on a jury and feels like it’s a tough position to be in. However, he’s willing to serve. In the questionnaire, he notes it would be inconvenient to miss some time with his kids around the holidays but it wouldn’t keep him from being a juror. He says he’s fine serving on the jury but is somewhat concerned about the information about him that will get released after the case.
Engh takes over after about 10 minutes. Asked more about his concerns about information released after the case, he says he’s concerned that people will be upset with any outcome in the case and says it’s easy to find information about people online. "I don’t know if they’re rational or not," he says about concerns for the safety of his home and family. He adds that those concerns wouldn’t stop him from being a juror. He explains he’s worked as an IT information security consultant for about 20 years. He notes he initially went to school to be a police officer, decided that wasn’t right for him, did the same with teaching and then found an interest in computers. A fear about having to use his gun deterred him from becoming a police officer, he says. On the questionnaire, he said he has a somewhat negative impression of Potter but says he’d be impartial as a juror. He also wrote on the questionnaire that he’d assume Potter would’ve had muscle memory for which side her Taser was on. He also marked a somewhat negative impression of Wright, saying he made a bad decision. He strongly agrees that police keep him safe but strongly disagrees that officers shouldn’t be second-guessed and that officers across the country treat people of color the same as white people. He explains that he believes everyone should have their work reviewed and he’d be impartial. He says Black Lives Matter brings important things to light but he hasn’t seen them create any change. Engh thoroughly goes over the entire questionnaire and the juror repeatedly says he can be a fair juror.
After about 20 minutes of questioning by Engh, Frank approves the juror without asking a question and Chu informs Juror No. 40 that he’ll serve on the jury for this case, making him the 10th juror seated.
Chu then puts the court in recess for lunch until 1:30 p.m.
Next up is potential juror No. 39, a Black man. He says he doesn’t know much about the case but saw the video of Wright’s death "a couple of times" on the news. He says he thinks it would’ve been better if Potter had taken more consideration before her actions but says he can presume she’s innocent. He’s never served on a jury before. He also notes English is his second language and he’s generally able to understand English but legal terms are different and a bit concerning. However, Chu notes he could always ask another juror if he doesn’t understand and he says he could do that.
Defense attorney Paul Engh takes over questioning potential juror No. 39 at 10:32 a.m. He says he moved to the U.S. about 10 years ago and knew English when he moved here. He reiterates that he’s not sure how the incident happened but, from the video he saw, he thinks Potter could’ve been more careful. He says he’s neutral on Wright because he doesn’t know anything about him. He says he’s a teacher but not fully employed currently, he just teaches at a day care a few hours per day. He has nine kids, ranging in age from 1 to 17. He says he wouldn’t have any income if selected for the jury, which would be hard on him and his family. Engh then asks for a sidebar, which lasts about five minutes.
After the sidebar, Engh returns and starts asking more questions of potential juror No. 39 and wonders what he’ll do if he doesn’t understand something during the trial. He says he could rely on his fellow jurors if he didn’t understand something. That prompts another sidebar, this one much shorter than the last.
Frank then takes over questioning potential juror No. 39, who says it’s easier to understand English by listening than by reading. Franks explains that the judge will provide instructions and definitions the potential juror would need to know both verbally and in written form and the juror says he understands that. Frank also asks about the juror driving for Uber but the juror says he stopped doing that over safety concerns. Frank also says the state provides some money if he’s a juror, which could help ease the hardship on his family and the juror agrees. He adds that he’s not sure what his bosses would say about not being able to teach at the day care until after he finishes jury duty each day. The juror also says he’d keep an open mind.
Another sidebar is then called. Chu then acknowledges the potential juror has been questioned for a long time — 50 minutes at this point — and says everyone is concerned he may not understand something but adds that she doesn’t want to strike him from the jury unless he thinks he won’t understand everything. After a few minutes, he says he’s not confident he’d understand everything and Chu excuses him for cause over the state’s objection.
Frank says the state still objects and says everyone has trouble understanding the legal concepts but with the definitions explained, the state feels potential juror No. 39 would’ve been just fine serving, noting the degrees he’s obtained at the University of Minnesota. Engh says the defense agrees with Chu’s ruling and it’s consistent with another juror who was excused.
Chu also says Juror No. 7, who was seated Tuesday, will return to the courtroom this afternoon. He was identified by defense attorney Earl Gray by name and also asked other identifying questions. Chu says she’ll make her findings on the record when the juror returns.
Chu then calls for a 20-minute morning break.
At 10:09 a.m., potential juror No. 35, a white woman, comes in for individual questioning. She notes she’s participated in protests and carried signs calling for justice for Daunte Wright and Breonna Taylor and stating Black Lives Matter but says she can presume Potter’s innocence. However, she says she has a family trip planned and paid for starting on Dec. 20 that can’t be rescheduled. If she had to stay behind, she says it’d be hard to concentrate on the case and not think about her family’s trip. Chu then calls for a sidebar and afterward asks if she’d be able to join her family on the trip if the case went until or just after Dec. 20, but the potential juror says she wouldn’t be able to due to ticket prices.
After another quick sidebar, Chu excuses the juror for cause over the state’s objection.
Jury selection started a little late Thursday after Judge Regina Chu and attorneys from both sides met behind closed doors. The panel of seven jurors didn’t get into the courtroom until 9:33 a.m. and then had to be sworn in and have the process explained to them by Chu.
Individual questioning finally got underway at 9:57 a.m. with potential juror No. 33, a white man. He says he has strong feelings in this case and Daunte Wright reminds him of the students he teaches, making it hard for him to set aside his sympathies and biases. "If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t know if I can (set that aside)," he said. Chu then called for a brief sidebar and then allowed Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank to ask a couple questions.
On his questionnaire, he said he thought he could be an impartial juror but since the school year has gone on, potential juror No. 33 says that’s influenced him a lot. Frank notes it’s OK to have biases and be aware of them but asks if the juror is able to separate them when making a decision based on the law in this case. The juror again says he’s not sure and his students have influenced him a lot.
After another brief sidebar, Chu excuses the potential juror from the case for cause.
Jury selection in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter continued Thursday with five more seats left to fill. Four jurors were seated on Tuesday and five jurors were seated Wednesday.
Potter faces first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright’s April 11 death.
After two days, the state has zero peremptory challenges left while the defense has three.
This story will continue to be updated throughout the day as jury selection proceeds.