Kim Potter trial updates: Potter testifies in her own defense

·9 min read

The trial of former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter charged in the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot during a traffic stop, continues with Potter taking the stand to testify in her own defense.

Potter, 49, is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 incident. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

PHOTO: A screen grab from police video which shows the traffic stop during which Daunte Wright is fatally shot by Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter (not visible in this frame) in Minneapolis, Dec. 8, 2021. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
PHOTO: A screen grab from police video which shows the traffic stop during which Daunte Wright is fatally shot by Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter (not visible in this frame) in Minneapolis, Dec. 8, 2021. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

MORE: Former officer Kim Potter set to go on trial in death of Daunte Wright

PHOTO: Signs stand on the south lawn, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis where jury selection begins for former police officer Kim Potter, who shot and killed motorist Daunte Wright. (Jim Mone/AP)
PHOTO: Signs stand on the south lawn, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis where jury selection begins for former police officer Kim Potter, who shot and killed motorist Daunte Wright. (Jim Mone/AP)

The maximum sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years and a $30,000 fine and for second-degree manslaughter, it's 10 years and a $20,000 fine.

Wright's death reignited protests against racism and police brutality across the U.S., as the killing took place just outside of Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, was taking place.


Latest Developments


Dec 17, 4:30 PM

'I didn't want to hurt anybody,' Potter testifies

As Kim Potter broke down on the stand, prosecutor Erin Eldridge asked, "You knew that deadly force was unreasonable and unwarranted" in the killing of Daunte Wright.

"I'm sorry," Potter said through sobs. "I didn't want to hurt anybody."

Eldridge then pressed, "You testified … that after you saw a scared look on Sgt. [Mychal] Johnson's face, that's why you decided to use the Taser?"

"Yes," Potter replied.

"But you also told Dr. [Laurence] Miller that you don't know why you decided to use the Taser?" Eldridge said.

PHOTO: In this image taken from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies during her trial, Dec. 17, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Pool via ABC )
PHOTO: In this image taken from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies during her trial, Dec. 17, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Pool via ABC )

She asked Potter why she remembered some aspects of the shooting in earlier conversations but not on the witness stand.

"You said that there are a lot of things that you don't remember, that you directly testified that your memory came back when you saw your husband that day," Eldridge asked. "But didn't you tell Dr. Miller that you remember seeing the gun in your right hand?"

Potter replied: "I don't remember my interview with him. I was distraught. I wasn't in a good place."

Body camera footage shows Potter sobbing and crying following the shooting, saying she's going to go to jail. Eldridge asked Potter about this.

"You didn't behave like someone who had just saved certain Johnson's life, did you?" she asked. "You never asked Sergeant Johnson if he was OK, right?"


Dec 17, 1:43 PM

Kim Potter testifies on Daunte Wright's past

Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by Kim Potter during a traffic stop, had a gross misdemeanor warrant and an order of protection against him.

Potter maintained that it is not uncommon to find someone who has a warrant during a traffic stop and that a gross misdemeanor is a lesser offense than a felony. Potter also recalled the temporary order of protection against Wright.

PHOTO: In this image taken from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies during her trial, Dec. 17, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Pool via ABC )
PHOTO: In this image taken from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies during her trial, Dec. 17, 2021, in Minneapolis. (Pool via ABC )

When prosecutor Erin Eldridge asked if "just having a female passenger in your car is not in and by itself a violation of an OFP [order of protection]," Potter said it has to be investigated.

Eldridge then asked, "You did not see a need to rush up to the passenger side of the vehicle and pull this woman to safety, right?"

"Not at the moment," Potter replied.


Dec 17, 1:23 PM

Prosecution questions Kim Potter on training

Kim Potters was asked about the department's Taser policy, which she said states "that all training should include performing reaction hand draws or cross draws to reduce the possibility of accidentally drawing and firing a firearm."

She also maintained that she received extensive use of force training.

"Part of the reason for that is weapons confusion, right?" the prosecution asked.

"Yes," Potter replied.

"And that was known in the field and has been known for a number of years," the prosecution continued.

"We talked about it," Potter said.

Potter wore her Taser on her left side and her firearm on her right side, according to her testimony. She said it's been like this since 2016.

She said she has never deployed her Taser but has pulled it out for de-escalation purposes.


Dec 17, 1:06 PM

Potter describes fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright

Kim Potter was emotional on the witness stand as she described the fatal traffic stop. She shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was being arrested by officers and attempted to flee.

"I remember a struggle with Officer [Anthony] Luckey and the driver at the door," Potter testified. "The driver was trying to get back into the car … I went around Officer Luckey as they're trying to get back in the door."

PHOTO: Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies in court in Minneapolis, Dec. 17, 2021.  (Court TV, via AP, Pool)
PHOTO: Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies in court in Minneapolis, Dec. 17, 2021. (Court TV, via AP, Pool)

She added, "They're still struggling and I can see Officer Johnson and the drivers struggling over the gearshifts because I can see Johnson's hand and then I can see his face."

She then described Sgt. Mychal Johnson, who was holding Wright from the passenger side of the car.

"He had a look of fear on his face -- nothing I'd seen before," she said. "We're trying to keep him from driving away. It just went chaotic. And then I remember yelling, 'Taser, Taser, Taser,' and nothing happened and then [Wright] told me I shot him."


Dec 17, 12:57 PM

Kim Potter on why she pulled over Wright

Kim Potter said she would not have stopped Wright over the air freshener nor the expired registration tabs if she were not field training.

"An air freshener, to me, is not just an equipment violation," she testified. "The COVID times, the high COVID times, the Department of Motor Vehicles was so offline that people weren't getting tabs and we were advised not to try to enforce a lot of those things because the tabs were just not in circulation. Part of field training is that my probationer would make numerous contacts with the public throughout the day," she said, regarding Officer Anthony Luckey, who she was training at the time.

She said that traffic stops can be dangerous for police officers.

"Sometimes there's guns in the car," she testified. "Sometimes there's uncooperative people, you don't know who you're stopping."


Dec 17, 12:33 PM

Potter says she likely never deployed her Taser

Kim Potter said she rarely took her Taser out and doesn't believe she ever deployed it.

She testified that she sometimes took her Taser out to de-escalate a situation "or to prepare for what might be behind the door. Sometimes an officer has a gun and sometimes an officer has a Taser out."

She said she received her new Taser almost a month before the fatal killing of Daunte Wright. She also said the training she had at the department was focused more on firearms than on Tasers.


Dec 17, 1:02 PM

Potter talks about her experience as a field training officer

Kim Potter was asked about her background with the Brooklyn Center Police Department. She was hired in 1995, making her a 26-year veteran of the department.

She was a field training officer for at least 10 years, she testified.

She said she was a field training officer because she "felt that I had knowledge and mentorship that I could help young officers develop into somebody I would want to work and my partners would want to work with."

PHOTO: Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies in court in Minneapolis, Dec. 17, 2021.  (Court TV, via AP, Pool)
PHOTO: Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter testifies in court in Minneapolis, Dec. 17, 2021. (Court TV, via AP, Pool)

She was serving as a field training officer when she fatally shot Wright.

She was also on the domestic abuse response team, serving as a crisis negotiator within the domestic abuse program.

"Officers would go out on domestic abuse situations or domestic calls and if there was a victim of a crime or an arrest made -- or not an arrest made -- we would follow up the next day with the victims to see that they were getting the things they needed like domestic advocates, walking them through getting order for protections that they had questions, and then helping them, and checking in with them through the court process," she testified.

As a crisis negotiator, Potter said she would respond to calls where people may be in danger to negotiate with the subject and get them to submit to being arrested.

She had also worked in crime prevention work and said she received a Taser and firearm training.


Dec 17, 1:04 PM

Kim Potter takes the stand

Kim Potter is testifying in her own defense about the April 11, 2021, events that led to the death of Daunte Wright, who she shot and killed during a traffic stop. She is charged with first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter. The defense said Potter meant to use her Taser on Wright but instead grabbed her firearm when she shot him in the driver's seat of his car, a mistake her lawyers call an "action error."

The defense has maintained that Potter was within her rights to use deadly force on Wright since he could have hurt or killed another officer with his car.


Dec 9, 8:40 AM

Minnesota governor prepares National Guard 'out of an abundance of caution'

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that he is preparing the Minnesota National Guard to provide public safety assistance if necessary during Kim Potter's trial, as requested by Hennepin County and the city of Brooklyn Center.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are prepared to ask members of the Minnesota National Guard to be available to support local law enforcement with the mission of allowing for peaceful demonstrations, keeping the peace, and ensuring public safety," Walz said in a statement Wednesday evening.

A press release from Walz's press office stated that, "at this time, the Minnesota National Guard will not be proactively assuming posts throughout the Twin Cities." Guard members will only operate in support of local law enforcement "should they be needed," according to the press release.


Dec 8, 6:58 PM

New body-cam footage shows Potter moments after shooting Wright

New body-worn camera footage played in the courtroom while the prosecution questioned Brooklyn Center officer Anthony Luckey showed the moments after Kim Potter shot Daunte Wright.

In the video, taken from Luckey's body-worn camera, Potter can be seen falling to the curb.

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God," she said, before hyperventilating for several minutes with her face buried in the grass.

Luckey's and Sgt. Mychal Johnson's arms can be seen reaching down to Potter.

PHOTO: Officer Kim Potter reacts on the ground after the traffic stop of Daunte Wright on April 11, 2021 in this image taken from police video played during Potter's trial in Minneapolis, Dec. 8, 2021. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
PHOTO: Officer Kim Potter reacts on the ground after the traffic stop of Daunte Wright on April 11, 2021 in this image taken from police video played during Potter's trial in Minneapolis, Dec. 8, 2021. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

"Just breathe," Luckey can be heard saying.

"I'm going to go to prison," Potter said.

"No, you're not," Luckey said.

"Kim, that guy was trying to take off with me in the car!" Johnson said in the video.

PHOTO: Officer Kim Potter reacts on the ground after the traffic stop of Daunte Wright on April 11, 2021 in this image taken from police video played during Potter's trial in Minneapolis, Dec. 8, 2021. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
PHOTO: Officer Kim Potter reacts on the ground after the traffic stop of Daunte Wright on April 11, 2021 in this image taken from police video played during Potter's trial in Minneapolis, Dec. 8, 2021. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Potter then sat up on the grass and repeatedly said, "Oh my God," as her colleagues waved traffic by and discussed shutting down the street.

Court has wrapped for the day and will resume at 9 a.m. local time Thursday.

-ABC News' Sasha Pezenik

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