A verdict was reached Thursday in the trial of Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who claimed she meant to pull her Taser when she shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man, during an April traffic stop.
Jurors began deliberating on Monday.
Potter, 49, had pleaded not guilty to charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter and faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted on both charges.
She shot Wright after he tried to flee cops seeking to arrest him on a weapons warrant during a traffic spot in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Body-cam footage shown multiple times throughout the trial depicts the distraught officer, who has insisted she accidentally pulled her gun instead of her Taser that day.
“Oh my God!” Potter wailed as another cop tried to console her, according to the footage released by police. “Holy sh-t! I just shot him!”
She notably took the stand during her trial, at times unable to compose herself and sobbing throughout her testimony.
“I’m so sorry,” she cried, burying her hands in her face. “I’m sorry it happened…I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
The prosecution heavily focused their argument on Potter’s more than two decades of training that they argued should have prevented her from making such a mistake. Erin Eldridge, who was also a member of the prosecuting team in the trial of Derek Chauvin, called Potter’s actions “a colossal screw-up” and “a blunder of epic proportions,” saying it was “no little oopsies.”
“Daunte Wright was unarmed, he had no gun, he had no weapon, and he posed no threat to those officers,” she told jurors. “We’re here because this was entirely preventable, totally avoidable.” The prosecution argued that Potter’s life was not at risk during the fatal encounter and her use of force was therefore unjustifiable.
During his closing arguments, Potter’s defense lawyer Earl Gray said his client was a “good cop” who had a clean record, describing her as a “peaceful,” “law-abiding person.”
“She made a mistake, and, my gosh, a mistake is not a crime,” Gray said.
The trial lasted just over two weeks, with the defense and prosecution calling a myriad of experts and witnesses to the stand. Judge Regina Chu laid out a timeline that showed a verdict arriving before Christmas.
Former Brooklyn Center police Chief Tim Gannon testified in Potter’s defense that he “saw no violation” of department policy during the deadly stop that set off demonstrations as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was standing trial for killing George Floyd.
Gannon stepped down days after the shooting, and Potter resigned the same day.