A former US police officer on trial over the death of a young African American cried in court on Friday as she described how a routine traffic stop quickly fell into chaos.
Kim Potter, 49, is charged with first degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, 20, in the Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in April this year.
She claims the shooting was an accident and mistakenly used her gun in place of her taser.
“We struggled, we tried to keep them from leaving. And then it just got messy, I remember screaming ‘taser taser taser’. And nothing happens, then he told me I shot him, ”Potter said, and burst into tears.
She said the following moments were largely empty.
“You have an ambulance for me and I don’t know why. And then I left, then I was on the ward. There are a lot of things I can’t remember afterwards, ”she said.
On Sunday April 11, 2021, the white policewoman was on patrol with a colleague who decided to see the driver of a white Buick who had committed a minor traffic violation.
After the police found that the driver had been arrested, the police decided to arrest him. Potter described this as a potentially dangerous situation.
“Sometimes there are guns in the car. Sometimes people are uncooperative, you don’t know who to stop, ”she said in court.
Wright, who was unarmed, refused to be handcuffed and restarted his car to escape. Potter then drew what she said she thought it was her taser.
On one recording of the scene, Potter can be heard shouting “Taser” several times before he shoots her weapon and fatally injures Wright.
The incident came during the trial of white police officer Derek Chauvin who suffocated George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes.
Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
Wright’s death also sparked several nights of protests and rioting in the Brooklyn Center before Potter’s own arrest eased tensions.
Potter’s attorney Paul Engh argued that Wright’s death was due to human error and the stress his client was under, claiming that she was trying to protect a colleague when Wright tried to drive away.
But for District Attorney Erin Eldridge, Wright died of Potter’s reckless use of her gun and the negligence of a 26-year-old officer.
Ben Crump, Wright’s family attorney, said in a statement that Potter’s testimony showed that “Daunte Wright’s assassination at Potter’s hands was totally preventable.”
cyj / iba / caw / jh