After over twelve hours of deliberation, on Tuesday evening the jurors in former police officer Kim Potter’s trial over the killing of 20 year old Daunte Wright, asked the judge for advice. Judge Regina Chu read the question aloud before the court, “If a jury cannot reach consensus, what is the guidance around how long and what steps should be taken?”
Judge Chu responded by re-reading a portion of the instructions they had received that Monday: “You should decide the case for yourself but only after you should have discussed the case with your fellow jurors and have carefully considered their views….You should not hesitate to re-examine your views and change your opinion if you become convinced they are erroneous, but you should not surrender your honest opinion simply because other jurors disagree, or merely to reach a verdict.”
This trial is over the April 11, 2021 murder of Daunte Wright when he was gunned down by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, which occurred in the midst of the Derek Chauvin trial over the murder of George Floyd. “Police have described the shooting of Wright as ‘an accidental discharge’ that happened as officers were trying to arrest Wright on an outstanding warrant after stopping his car for having expired registration tags” according to the Associated Press.
Body camera footage shows Potter yelling out “Taser, Taser, Taser” before the shooting. Immediately afterward, she said “Holy sh-t! I just shot him!…I grabbed the wrong f–king gun, and I shot him. Oh, my God! I’m going to go to prison…I killed a boy.”
A few days later, Potter resigned from the police department, and was subsequently charged with both “first- and second-degree manslaughter.” The people tasked with determining Potter’s fate and interpreting whether or not Wright’s death was simply an unfortunate accident or due to negligence and recklessness consists of nine White, two Asian, and one Black juror.
Potter, who pleaded not guilty, took the stand in her own defense during the trial “and broke down in tears several times…”I was very distraught. I just shot somebody. I’m sorry it happened…I’m so sorry.”
The sequestered group “also asked the court that zip ties securing the weapon to an evidence box be removed so the handgun can be held during deliberations.” Judge Chu allowed this, which means the jurors would be able to handle the unloaded, fully secured, weapon. Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who is a former defense attorney spoke with CNN, saying that these questions indicate “pretty strong opinions on both sides…I think right now they are saying, can this be an accident? Or must it be negligence for an officer to mistake or confuse a gun – a handgun – with a Taser?…And that’s why I think they are holding it. I think they are really grappling with that and trying to come up with a decision that they can stick with for the rest of their lives.”