2 alternates chosen, full jury seated for Kimberly Potter's manslaughter trial

3December 2021

Jury selection for the manslaughter trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter is now complete, with two alternates chosen Friday morning to sit with the 12 tapped earlier to hear the evidence in connection with the shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright last April.

The alternates will hear the case and step in if any among the 12 jurors can’t continue. Otherwise, the alternates will go home before closed-door deliberations in Hennepin County District Court. Judge Regina Chu has scheduled opening statements for Wednesday.

The first alternate selected is a woman with grown children who has been on juries twice before, with one of the cases involving a police officer who injured a man. She said both cases were from many years ago, and she had little memory of the specifics.

In any event, she assured the prosecution and the defense, she she said her involvement in those cases would not affect her ability to judge the evidence in this case.

Asked whether she wants to sit on a third jury, the woman replied, “I’ve had the benefit of a long life, and I am blessed that I am healthy… In that respect, I’d be honored to serve on the jury.”

The final alternate chosen fills out the full jury panel. He is a father of a toddler who lives in Eden Prairie.

The man said his child’s godfather is a St. Paul police officer, but that relationship would have no affect on his ability to be a fair juror in this case.

He said “I’ve heard some stories” about the behavior of particular officers. “There are some police officers who aren’t the best,” he added.

That said, he added, “I see police officers have a lot of respect, even my friend, for the msot part he feels he gets the respect he deserves.”

Between now and opening statements, Chu said, the judge’s instructions on the law will be discussed with attorneys on both sides. Autopsy photos as evidence also will be reviewed, she said.

Of the dozen seated through Thursday, nine are white, two are Asian women and one is a Black woman. Six are men. Six are women. Three are in their 20s, one is in her 30s, four are in their 40s, two are in their 50s and two are in their 60s.

The jury is considerably less diverse than the one that convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. That jury included two multiracial women, three Black men and a Black woman as well as six white people.

The jurors in the 49-year-old Potter’s trial will be asked to render verdicts on two charges: first- and second-degree manslaughter. Potter intends to testify that she believed she had grabbed her Taser but instead shot a noncompliant Wright with her handgun after a traffic stop for expired vehicle registration tabs led to officers learning there was a warrant for his arrest on a gross-misdemeanor weapons allegation.

Of the three jurors selected Thursday, one is a white woman in her 40s who has two small children, lives in Minneapolis and has worked as an IT project manager. She wrote on her questionnaire before coming to court that Wright “should not have died for something like expired tabs.”

The two others seated Thursday are white men. One is a married IT security consultant and father who grew up in Bloomington. He considered becoming a police officer but changed his mind out of fear “I’d end up having to use my gun.”

The 12th juror seated is in his 50s, a Navy veteran who was voluntarily tased while serving, now lives in Minneapolis and works in data protection.

He said his wife and daughter were victims of an attempted carjacking in south Minneapolis in early 2020. He said his wife was pistol-whipped by four young men who were Hispanic or Black. No one was arrested.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked whether that incident would affect him in a case with a white defendant and a Black victim. He said he’d have “no difficulty.”

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