Police policies, Potter’s Taser training highlighted on Day 5 of testimony

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The trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter continued Tuesday with testimony about her training and the department’s policies.

Brooklyn Center Police Commander Garett Flesland painstakingly went over many of the department’s policies and code of ethics before going through Potter’s Taser training records, noting she was certified as recently as March 2021 and always had perfect training scores. Additionally, he stood up and explained to jurors the difference between a cross-draw orientation for a Taser — which he uses — and a reaction orientation that Potter used.

When the defense asked Flesland about his thoughts on Potter as a police officer, he said, "She’s a good person, she’s a friend. I have no concerns going to calls with her. I had no concerns with her." He also revealed that he and former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon went to Potter’s home on April 11 after the shooting because they were told she tried to hurt herself. However, Judge Regina Chu stopped that testimony and told jurors to disregard that comment.

While the defense tried to get Flesland to say Potter acted appropriately, the state made Flesland confirm that he’d never watched all of the videos of the incident, nor had he read the reports or interviewed anyone for the case. Flesland did tell jurors that officers "should use no more (force) than is reasonably necessary to accomplish the task."

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The only other testimony on Tuesday came from Brooklyn Center Sgt. Mike Peterson, a use-of-force instructor. He and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank thoroughly went over all of the Taser and use of force training sessions that officers go through and how the department uses scenario-based or reality-based training.

The lengthy and less-than-exciting process left at least one juror nearly falling asleep and disengaged to the point where few notes were taken, pool reporters noted. In fact, after the state finished questioning Peterson at 4:26 p.m., Chu dismissed jurors before the defense even cross-examined him, presumably so the jurors would recharge for the night and be more engaged in the morning.

The few highlights of Peterson’s testimony came when he stood up and demonstrated how Potter’s Taser holster worked and then did a spark test for jurors. The state finished by asking if he’d ever known of any other officers drawing their handgun when they meant to draw a Taser since he started at the department and Peterson said he wasn’t aware of any.

The state is expected to wrap up its case this week.

Chu and the attorneys also discussed a couple of other things Tuesday, including two motions the state filed Monday. Chu ruled that questions about Potter’s union membership won’t be allowed and that officers can testify based on their experience and training, although no witness "can testify that Officer Potter experienced action error." The state had sought to allow questions about Potter’s union membership and limit opinions from non-expert witnesses.

They also discussed how to handle aggravating factors in the event the jury returns a guilty verdict. The state adamantly argued that they’d all agreed to a single trial but the defense disputed that, saying they’d want a small, separate trial on aggravating factors in that event. Chu allowed for a separate trial as the defense requested and Potter then waived her right to a jury trial for that, meaning Chu would decide on the two accused aggravating factors: whether Potter abused her position of authority and whether the shooting caused Wright to crash afterward. However, that will only matter if a guilty verdict is returned by the jury.

Court is scheduled to reconvene Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Click here to read more in-depth notes or watch Tuesday’s proceedings.