Former police officer Kim Potter, who has said she mistook her firearm for her Taser when she fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop near Minneapolis, broke down on the stand Friday, apologizing and insisting she “didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
“I was very distraught. I just shot somebody. I’m sorry it happened,” Potter cried as a prosecutor asked her about her behavior moments after the fatal shooting. “I’m so sorry.”
Asked whether she knew deadly force was “unreasonable and unwarranted,” Potter cried: “I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
The defense rested Friday afternoon after an emotional Potter spent hours on the stand, breaking down several times as she described the “chaotic” moments that day in April. Jury instructions and closing arguments are scheduled to begin Monday.
Potter, the last of more than 30 witnesses called over eight days, began weeping early in her testimony. She recalled the “look of fear” on another officer’s face as he struggled with Wright.
“It’s nothing I’ve seen before,” she said, weeping, recalling the officer reaching into the car to grab the 20-year-old Black father during the April encounter.
“We are struggling. We’re trying to keep him from driving away. It just went chaotic. I remember yelling – ‘Taser, Taser, Taser’ – and nothing happened. And then he told me I shot him,” she said, crying and placing her hands over her face.
It was the first time the 26-year veteran has recounted publicly in detail what happened that day. Some jurors took notes.
Potter fell apart again later when, under cross, a prosecutor played a video of what happened right before the shooting.
Her own words are the centerpiece of her defense against first- and second-degree manslaughter charges in the incident, which set off days of unrest in the city of Brooklyn Center after a summer of coast-to-coast protests over how police treat people of color.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Erin Eldridge, Potter said Wright had not threatened the officers.
“You never saw a gun?” Eldridge asked.
“No,” Potter said.
He never threw a punch right?
He never kicked anyone?
He never said, I’m going to kill you?
He never said, I’m going to shoot you?
He never said, There’s a gun in the car and I’m coming after you?
Potter testified she has been trained on Tasers since 2002. The prosecutor showed photos of Potter’s yellow-and-black Taser and black firearm, side by side. Eldridge asked about the differences in drawing a gun and a Taser from opposite sides of a gun belt.
How does that gun come out of that holster?
It would rock forward.
How do you pull with your hand out of your holster?
It would rock forward and you would pull it out.
And the Taser, on the other hand, you would press the button, rock it backward and pull it out, correct?