Photo: Court TV, via AP, Pool.
Photo: Court TV, via AP, Pool.
Updated: December 08, 2021 04:55 PM
Created: December 08, 2021 09:35 AM
Officer Anthony Luckey
At 3:31 p.m., court reconvened and Frank continued questioning Luckey. He said Sgt. Johnson arrived at the scene while they were running Wright's information and Luckey advised him of the stop and the plan to arrest Wright. He then went up to Wright and saw he was on the phone with someone and Wright told him he was talking to his mother. Luckey also noted a pile of papers on Wright's lap, as if he'd been searching for proof of insurance. When he asked Wright to get out of the vehicle, Luckey had Wright place the phone on the dashboard and then asked him to put his hands behind his back. Luckey said Wright complied after some hesitation and Luckey heard the passenger tell Wright to just do it. Luckey said he, Johnson and Potter all then told Wright he was being arrested on a warrant.
Luckey said as he lifted Wright's sleeves and went to place the cuff on his left wrist, Wright jerked his arm back. When he tensed up, Luckey said he told Wright, "Don't do it, bro," and Potter went to grab Wright's right arm but Wright yanked his right arm up and tried to get back into the vehicle. Luckey said he tried to put Wright into a modified head-grab to stop him but Wright grabbed the steering wheel and pulled himself into the car. Potter then ran to Luckey's left side to help. Luckey said he could also see Sgt. Johnson reaching over the front passenger, trying to help. Luckey added that Wright was trying to operate the car, presumably to drive away. Luckey said he was grabbing where Wright was to try to undo whatever he was doing but he wasn't able to turn the car off.
While Potter was to his left, Luckey said he heard Potter say, "I'm gonna tase you." Luckey still was grabbing Wright, trying to get him under control. He then heard Potter again say she was going to tase Wright and as he heard her say, "Taser, Taser, Taser," he heard a bang, which he recognized as a gun. Luckey said he didn't know immediately whose gun fired but he knew it wasn't Wright's. Luckey said he also got hit in the face with a projectile. Luckey testified that the Glock Brooklyn Center police use discharges a cartridge to the right. After the gun was fired, Luckey said he didn't hear Wright say anything, likely due to the gun going off close to him, but after reviewing video, Wright said he'd been shot.
Luckey said he was partially in the vehicle when the gun was fired and then jumped back when he heard the bang. He then saw Wright put the car in drive and it took off.
After the vehicle left, Luckey said he looked back at Sgt. Johnson, then at Potter and he realized what had happened. He saw Potter's firearm and Taser and said Potter became hysterical and was saying she'd shot Wright. Luckey used his radio to notify officers that shots had been fired. Luckey said he stayed at the initial stop scene.
Frank then plays Luckey's squad and bodycam videos from when Wright was stopped through the shooting. He then plays Potter's bodycam video of the attempted arrest and shooting and Potter can be heard after the shooting saying, "I just shot him ... I grabbed the wrong [expletive] gun ... Oh my God." Sgt. Johnson tells Potter to sit down and she's distraught, screaming, crying and repeating "Oh my God." Before the car takes off, Wright can also be heard saying, "Ah, he shot me." At one point, Potter was facedown with Johnson and Luckey telling her to take a breath. Potter is also heard saying she's going to go to prison and Luckey tells her she's not.
Luckey said Johnson told him to take his squad to block off the road and he then remained at the scene for about an hour.
At 4:19 p.m., Engh takes over questioning of Luckey. Luckey says Sgt. Johnson was the one who told Potter that Wright was trying to take off with him in the vehicle.
Engh circles back to Luckey testifying earlier that he had an "intuition" and it's part of the reason he called for an officer to assist. Luckey said the area is a high-crime area for guns and drugs. Engh says you make a lot of decisions based on your gut feeling as an officer, and Luckey replied, "yes." Engh then walks through the events again, asking questions that Luckey responds "yes" to. Luckey noted he always assumes there's a gun in a vehicle when he stops it, and adds that you could probably find between two to five guns in traffic stops in a shift in Brooklyn Center.
Luckey said Wright never stopped resisting him before the shooting. In that situation, Luckey said he would've used his Taser because Wright didn't have control of the vehicle and Brooklyn Center Police policy says it's OK to use a Taser if he doesn't have control of the vehicle. He reiterates he didn't believe Wright had control of the vehicle when Potter yelled, "Taser, Taser, Taser" and the shot was fired.
Frank then asked about Wright's foot hitting the accelerator after he was shot and asks if Luckey knew Wright's condition when his car crashed after the shooting, and Luckey replied, "no." Luckey also reiterated that he thought he was doing good police work when he had his "intuition" about calling for an additional officer, and adds that he never saw a gun in Wright's vehicle. When asked about use of force to make an arrest, Luckey said an officer has discretion over that. If Wright had driven away, Frank asks if Luckey could've followed him at regular traffic speeds and Luckey confirmed that. He also noted that a small amount of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor, not a felony.
Frank rests at 4:50 p.m. and Potter then adjourns court for the day until 9 a.m. Thursday.
Officer Anthony Luckey
At 2:17 p.m., the state called officer Anthony Luckey to the stand. He says he grew up in Brooklyn Park and has been employed at the Brooklyn Center Police Department since February 2021 but he's worked as an officer for around three years. "For me, it was always a calling, wanting to help other people and wanting to do good in the world," Luckey said about why he became a police officer.
He said he was a police explorer — learning the basics of law enforcement and participating in competitions — with Brooklyn Center police and continued to do that until he was 18 in 2008. He met Potter through that explorer program. After high school, he went to college for a two-year law enforcement degree and a police skills program. His first job as an officer was for the Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department and he went through a field training program with them, which consists of working with a more senior officer "to show and prove you can do the job on your own."
Luckey said he didn't know the geography well and was let go so he then worked for the Gaylord Police Department. He then completed another field training program in Gaylord before getting hired at the Brooklyn Center Police Department in February. Luckey said Brooklyn Center transitioned Tasers from the X26P model to the Taser 7 in March. He explained the department's policy to carry a Taser on the opposite side from the firearm so officers don't get confused between the two. He explained he used to use a "cross-draw" with his Taser, meaning he'd grab his Taser from his left side with his right hand. He then trained and has since gone to a "straight draw" where he grabs his Taser on his left side with his left hand. He said he's drawn his Taser while working for both Gaylor and Brooklyn Center but he's never fired it.
Luckey explained the Taser training he'd gone through in Brooklyn Center, which involved a PowerPoint program and hands-on training, including deploying a Taser at targets after some running and jumping to get their blood flowing.
On April 11, Luckey said he was still in the field training program and was working a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift with Potter. He notes he was in the second phase of four, with each phase typically consisting of 14 shifts. In the second phase, Luckey said he typically did around 30% of the work. The field training officer — Potter — was tasked with instructing, grading and correcting errors. He said April 11 was his fifth shift with Potter. He noted that he'd conducted traffic stops, arrested people and arrested people on warrants before.
Luckey said when he saw Wright's vehicle, he was behind Wright's vehicle and Wright's vehicle turned left with the right blinker on so he followed it and ran the registration of the license plate, which showed him the tabs were expired. He said the registration came back to Dallas Bryant, Wright's brother. Luckey also saw the air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, which he said is "a fairly common violation of the law." He said he then notified Hennepin County dispatch to tell them he was going to stop the vehicle Wright was in. He then asked for another officer to help him with the traffic stop because of what he knew and "intuition." Sgt. Johnson responded that he would respond to assist. He then pulled Wright over near 63rd and Orchard avenues.
When he approached Wright and asked for license and proof of insurance, Luckey said he also said he stopped him for the air freshener hanging from the mirror and asked Wright about the expired tabs. Wright told Luckey he'd just bought the car brother his brother, Dallas Bryant. Luckey said he smelled marijuana as he talked to Wright and Luckey said he also saw marijuana residue on the vehicle's middle console. Wright told Luckey he didn't have a driver's license and also said he'd look for the insurance but he'd just bought the car from his brother. At some point, Wright did give Luckey an insurance card but it was expired and listed someone else's name. Luckey said he told Wright to keep looking for a current insurance card while Luckey went back to the squad car to run the information he'd received.
Luckey described Wright as respectful and didn't make any threats or give any indication he might be armed. Luckey said the information he ran on Wright all checked out. He noted Potter instructed him on how to run Wright's information so as much information would come back as possible. The information that came back as a gross misdemeanor weapons charge and a protection order for a female, which indicates Wright is supposed to not have any contact with that female.
Chu called for a 20-minute afternoon break at 3:08 p.m., with Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank to continue questioning Luckey when court reconvenes.
A 1:34 p.m., jurors were called back into the courtroom and the state began presenting its case and called its first witness, Katie Bryant, Daunte Wright's mother, to the stand.
Eldridge asked Bryant about Wright. She said he liked basketball and played all the way through high school. He'd worked at a Taco Bell and a Famous Footwear and had enrolled at Summit Academy to possibly pursue carpentry. Bryant says Wright's son, Daunte Jr., turned 2 in July. Eldridge and Bryant then discussed a couple of pictures of Wright taken at family events. Bryant said Wright was a proud dad.
Bryant was emotional as she discussed her son. She explained that on April 11, she was watching Daunte Jr. When Wright came over, he asked for $50 to wash the car and fill it up with gas. Bryant said they gave Wright the vehicle as his first car about two weeks before Wright was killed, and the family hadn't yet moved registration and insurance to Wright's name. Bryant said Wright called her about 10 minutes after he left the house to discuss which car wash to go to. After another 10 or 15 minutes, he called and told her he'd been pulled over. She advised him to take the air freshener down from the mirror, which he said he already did, and then she said she could explain the insurance information to the officer over the phone.
"He sounded really nervous but I assured him that it would be OK," Bryant said through tears.
Bryant explained that she then heard the officer come back and tell Wright to put the phone down and she could hear it drop on the seat or floor. She heard some commotion before the call dropped. Bryant said she tried calling back multiple times and then video-called and a girl answered and was screaming, saying they shot Wright and showed Wright's body to her. Bryant said a neighbor drove her and Daunte Jr. to 63rd and Katherine and Bryant saw Wright's vehicle and she recognized the shoes sticking out from under a white sheet as Wright's and she knew it was his body.
The state then played a body camera video of Bryant arriving at the scene and asking about Wright's condition, saying her son had been shot. "I was so confused, angry, scared, it was the worst day of my life," Bryant said, adding she was praying her son was in the back of a car somewhere else even though she knew that wasn't the case. Bryant said she waited at the scene until Wright's body was removed but she was never able to approach him.
"I wanted to go comfort my baby, I wanted to hold him and I wanted to protect him, because that's what mothers do, you protect your children, make sure they're safe," Bryant said.
At 2:07 p.m., defense attorney Earl Gray took over questioning Bryant. Bryant said they didn't have insurance on the vehicle at the time and she knew he didn't have a driver's license. She didn't know he used marijuana or that he had a warrant for his arrest.
Gray asked Bryant about the interview she gave to law enforcement on April 15. Bryant said she was considering a civil lawsuit at the time. Gray then ended his questioning of Bryant.
At 11:49 a.m., defense attorney Paul Engh laid out their case to the jury.
"She said, 'I'll tase you, I'll tase you.' The language was direct, it was clear, it was unmistakable, and all Mr. Wright had to do was stop," Engh said.
He told the jury that they have to know what Potter's seeing when she was saying "Taser, Taser, Taser," and that it was her partner, Sgt. Michael Johnson, in the car. Engh said Potter knew if Wright drove away, Johnson would've been dangling from the car and could've killed Johnson.
"So when she says, 'Taser, Taser, Taser, and one last pause, the facts will show you Mr. Wright can stop, all he has to do is stop and he'd be with us, but he goes," Engh said in an animated opening.
He highlighted that Potter pulled the trigger once, which is training for a Taser, instead of twice for a handgun and immediately realized her mistake.
"She made a mistake. This was an accident. She's a human being but she had to do what she had to do to prevent a death to a fellow officer, too," Engh said.
Engh then shifted to role the jury has and told them, "You're making an everlasting decision about a human being and there's hardly any greater responsibility than that," before outlining his opening statement a bit more for the jurors.
Then, he outlined the 49-year-old Potter and her personal life, saying, "one of the proudest days of her life was to have her dad pin the badge on her so that she could be a police officer." He says Potter started out as a patrol officer and always wanted to be on the street, and she took a special interest in domestic abuse victims. She became part of the Brooklyn Center Domestic Abuse Task Force, was on the crisis team and was a field training officer, who trains other officers. She's also on the Honor Guard, carrying the caskets of police officers who die in the line of duty.
He also said Potter never fired her gun in her 26 years on the force. "She never fired one shot. She never fired her Taser. She never had to," Engh said.
He explained that Sgt. Johnson, 41, is on the SWAT team, and that Anthony Luckey is an officer in his 20s who grew up in nearby Brooklyn Park and was being supervised by Potter on April 11.
He then goes through April 11, saying Luckey first followed Wright because he saw the vehicle's signal was blinking for the opposite direction that it turned. He then noted the tabs were expired, so he didn't stop Wright over the air freshener hanging from the mirror. Engh emphasized that was all Luckey's decision and Potter simply didn't oppose it.
After making contact with Wright, Engh said Luckey "immediately notices the odor of marijuana." He then asked for Wright's license and registration, which Wright didn't have, Engh said.
"So we've got some flags here going on. It's not anything about the tabs any longer. It's about someone who shouldn't be driving a car at all," Engh said.
They then found the warrant for a gun charge for Wright.
"A gun charge is a gross misdemeanor and this causes Luckey, who lives in the area, to be alarmed because he knows from his own personal experience from this area that a substantial percentage of people driving in Brooklyn Center have guns in their car," Engh said.
Engh said the officers also found a harassment order against Wright just an hour earlier.
As they arrested Wright, Engh said Wright tensed up and Luckey tried to tell him not to. "We have someone who's supposed to surrender and doesn't want to surrender," Engh said. "And he gets back in the car and it's chaotic. It's fast-moving, this is really quick. Mr. Wright is extremely fast. He knows exactly what he wants to do and that is escape."
Engh explained to the jury that, as Wright tried to get back in the vehicle, Luckey was trying to hang on to Wright, Johnson was hanging on the car, and "they also know they can't let him go."
He said Potter's hostage crisis training tells her that saying she'll use her Taser and possibly using it will help with compliance.
"The onus will show you in her own testimony and in your intuition after watching the video 10 times is that she believed that she possessed a Taser," Engh said.
Engh then discussed who they'll have testify for the jury, including Timothy Gannon, the former Brooklyn Center police chief; another officer who was with Potter later that night and an expert in psychology with an expertise in traumatic incidents. Engh says the testimony the jury will hear will say Potter acted in accordance with her training.
"Miss Potter's good name has been besmirched by this allegation, which is not true, and by the press coverage, which has been slanted, and we seek to reclaim it and reclaim it we will, and our request for you to find her not guilty will be well-deserved," Engh said in conclusion of his opening statement.
Chu then adjourned the court for lunch until 1:30 p.m.
Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge began opening statements for the state at 10:26 a.m.
She started by reading the oath a Brooklyn Center police officer takes, noting they serve to protect life, not take it.
"Every day they put on their uniforms and they go to work, and they go to work on the streets of our communities ... and every day they do this, we entrust them with our lives," Eldridge said.
"We expect them not to betray their badge. We expect them to uphold their oath. We trust them to know wrong from right and left from right."
Eldridge said the jury will hear about Potter being a 26-year veteran of the police force, about the training she'd gone through and why she should've known and been aware of the differences between her Taser and her gun. She also noted Potter passed all the requirements to be certified on her Taser on March 2, just over a month before Wright was shot.
After about 11 minutes, Eldridge shifted to discuss Daunte Wright for a bit, noting he was the first child his parents had and he had a child of his own. She noted that Wright, on April 11, had gone to his parents' home and was excited about getting his new car — the family car — a car wash. The incident at the heart of the trial occurred while he was en route to the car wash.
Eldridge then shifted to Potter's day on April 11, noting she was training a new officer named Officer Luckey. While on patrol, Eldridge says they saw Wright driving and stopped the vehicle for the air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. After stopping Wright, they also found the tabs were expired, a typical traffic stop. They also then ran Wright's name after making contact with him and found that Wright had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a gross misdemeanor weapons violation.
Eldridge pointed that another Brooklyn Center officer, Sgt. Johnson, then came to the scene and talked to Potter and Luckey about what was happening. They filled him in and stated they were going to arrest Wright on the warrant. She emphasized that they didn't approach Wright's vehicle with guns drawn, it was a normal, routine stop and they'd expressed to concern for their safety. She also emphasized that Wright complied with officers' requests for him to get out of the vehicle and said Wright got scared when Luckey started to handcuff him and he tried to get back in his vehicle.
But Potter was the officer in charge and, as soon as she got involved, she immediately escalated the situation, Eldridge said. The state also played a short video from the body camera and squad camera.
"Members of the jury, there is no do-over when you walk the streets with a loaded firearm when you're entrusted with a deadly weapon as part of your job. There's no do-over when you take a young man's life," Eldridge said.
She also emphasized that Potter didn't do anything to help Wright after shooting him, stating she didn't call for help, render aid or tell any other responding officers that Wright had been shot. "So almost 10 minutes later, a small army of officers approached with guns drawn and dragged Daunte Wright's dead body out of the car at gunpoint," Eldridge said.
Eldridge told the jury they'll hear from the person whose vehicle was hit by Wright's car and from the person who was riding with Wright at the time. They'll also hear from the person who conducted the autopsy about the examination and the jury will see pictures of Wright's injuries.
Eldridge also outlined "what this case is not about." She said it's not about if Potter intended to kill Wright. "No one will say she wanted him dead, no one must say she wanted this to happen, and no one is even saying that she meant to shoot him with her gun," Eldridge said. It's also not about Daunte Wright, she noted. Instead, it's about her drawing the wrong weapon and not verifying it was the right one before acting, Eldridge said.
The defense objected over a few pieces of Eldridge's opening statements and, after one objection, Chu told Eldridge to stick with the bird's-eye view of the case.
Eldridge also told the jury they'll hear all about the training Potter had undergone and that the evidence will show Potter didn't follow that training. She then walked the jury through some of the Brooklyn Center Police Department's policies on de-escalation, firearms and Tasers, and showed a few pictures highlighting the differences between the Taser and Glock that Potter had as well as how the Taser works. Pictures showing how Potter had her Taser and firearm positioned — Taser on her left side, Glock on her right side — was consistent over the course of several years leading up to the shooting.
While highlighting many of the training materials Potter had undergone, Eldridge emphasized that the Taser training itself tells officers to slow down and reevaluate use if there's no immediate safety risk.
"I killed a boy. I killed a boy. Those were the defendant's words. That's what she said after she did what she did," Eldridge emphasized just before ending her opening remarks at 11:25 a.m.
The court then took a 20-minute break before the defense's opening statements.
Opening statements began Wednesday morning in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter, who is charged in the death of Daunte Wright.
Potter faces first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in Wright's April 11 death.
Court was scheduled to convene at 9 a.m. but ran late after attorneys for both sides and Judge Regina Chu went over some objections over trial exhibits and didn't start until about 9:45 a.m. After those objections were put on the record, opening statements finally got underway just after 10:25 a.m.
Click here to see more about the jury.
This story will continue to be updated throughout the day as the trial proceeds.
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