(MINNEAPOLIS) — 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, begins Wednesday.
Opening statements will take place in the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Potter, 49, is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 incident. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Potter has said she meant to grab her stun gun, but accidentally shot her firearm instead when she and other officers were attempting to arrest Wright, who had escaped the officers’ grip and was scuffling with them when he was shot.
Wright was initially pulled over for an expired registration tag on his car, but officers discovered he had an outstanding warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons charge and tried to detain him, according to former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.
Potter was first indicted on a second-degree manslaughter charge, which alleges that she acted with “culpable negligence” in Wright’s death. A first-degree manslaughter count was later added. Prosecutors say that Potter caused Wright’s death while recklessly handling a gun, causing the death to be reasonably foreseeable.
An intent to kill is not required in either charge.
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.
Potter resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department two days after the incident.
The jury of 12 jurors and two alternates in the racially charged case is composed of 11 white jurors, one Black juror and two jurors of Asian descent.
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.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Dec 08, 10:56 am
Daunte Wright’s family enters courtroom
Daunte Wright’s siblings — Damik, Diamond and Dallas — have arrived at the Hennepin County Government Center ahead of opening statements.
Daunte’s family wants him to be remembered not through the tragedy of his death, but as a brother, son and father who was close with his family.
“On Thanksgiving, we sat there and we watched so many videos of my nephew,” Wright’s aunt Naisha Wright said tearfully in a past interview with ABC News. “It was just such a beautiful thing, because everybody had a memory of him either cracking jokes or trying to dance — because he could not dance, but he tried.”
She added: “He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby.”
Dec 08, 10:13 am
Names prominent in the trial
The state is expected to deliver its opening statement first, represented by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank.
Judge Chu will call the case, and hand it to the prosecution. Depending on how long each side takes, it is entirely possible the state call its first witness today also.
-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik
Dec 08, 9:47 am
A look at the jury as trial begins
Opening statements in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter will begin Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET at the Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis.
Proceedings will take place in the same courtroom where Derek Chauvin was convicted in the murder of George Floyd.
Potter, 49, is charged with felony first- and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man. She has pleaded not guilty.
Potter’s jury is less diverse than the one that decided Chauvin’s case: nine of the 12 deliberating jurors are white, alongside one Black juror, and two Asian jurors. The two alternate jurors are also white.
The deliberating jury is 75% white — which is aligned with the racial demographics of Hennepin County, according to Census information.
-ABC News’ Sasha Pezenik
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