MINNEAPOLS (WCCO) — A protester pushing for transparency in the upcoming Kim Potter trial may have crossed a legal line this weekend.
Potter is the former Brooklyn Center police officer charged with manslaughter in the killing of Daunte Wright.
Cortez Rice helped lead a protest Saturday outside Judge Regina Chu’s apartment building. Chu is overseeing the Potter trial.
Protesters were calling for cameras to be allowed in the courtroom.
During the protest, Rice, who is close with Wright’s family, went into Chu’s apartment building and streamed himself live on Facebook as he approached what he believed was the judge’s apartment door.
“I don’t know if this is her crib,” Rice says in the video, which has since been removed. “I think this is her crib right here. We got confirmation that this is her house right here. Waiting for the gang to get up here.”
Rice then opens a window down the hall and yells down to protesters.
He says into his phone, “If people stand down there, she’ll definitely hear us.”
Rice leaves to join the crowd outside when a resident questions who he’s there to see.
In an interview Monday, Rice told WCCO: “I just went there to make sure we were in the right vicinity, that if we were at the right place, that they could hear us.”
He said he wasn’t trying to intimidate Chu or get her to change her mind on any decisions she’s made.
“We simply wanted her to hear what we had to say,” Rice said.
Joe Tamburino, a criminal defense lawyer not associated with the trial, says Rice’s actions are in somewhat of a gray area.
Tamburino says they could be seen as intimidation, which is a felony when the target is a judge.
“If someone is just roaming the hallway [because] they’re lost, they don’t know what’s going on, of course [it’s not intimidation],” Tamburino said. “But [Rice] has been active in social media and what he’s saying could be used against him to show his intent as to why he went to the judge’s residence.”
“Judge Chu is unable to comment on pending cases or possible investigations into the activities [Saturday],” a court administration spokesperson said. “Chief Judge Barnette is in contact with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and he is confident in the security and safety plans that they have in place for the State v. Potter trial.”
In a statement, the Minneapolis Police Department said, “Officers responded to numerous reports of protesters in the area outside of the address. There is no report associated with this incident. MPD is reviewing the circumstances related to this incident.”
More than a dozen news organizations — including WCCO — have asked the judge through official court procedures to allow live video coverage of the Potter trial.
It’s unclear when the judge will consider the media’s request to reconsider.
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