Former officer Kim Potter on trial for Daunte Wright's death

By Mike Hayes, Adrienne Vogt, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 9:00 PM ET, Wed December 8, 2021
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3:28 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Jury shown body camera footage of Daunte Wright's mother overwhelmed following shooting

The jury was shown body camera footage from April 2021 showing an emotional Katie Bryant, mother of Daunte Wright, talking to police officers following the shooting.

"You guys shot him, why?" Bryant said to an officer while standing in the street. "Why? Because he had a warrant?"

"I was here, I watched it," she continued in the footage.

Bryant can be seen crying hysterically while another officer sits on a short wall next to her.

3:12 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Daunte Wright's mom gives emotional testimony about the last time she saw her son before he was shot

From CNN's Mike Hayes

The prosecution's first witness was Katie Bryant, mother of Daunte Wright. She began her testimony by describing what the family was doing earlier in the day on the day of the shooting

Bryant said that on the morning of April 11, 2021, she was watching Wright's 1-year-old son.

"I had Daunte Jr. He stayed the night. It was just an average day. And we woke up, he had his favorite chocolate chip pancakes and he was eating breakfast, watching Coco Melon, and it was time for his nap that was around 12 something that afternoon," Bryant said. 

She said that Wright came home in the afternoon and asked her for $50 because he wanted to go get a car wash and he said he needed gas. 

"And I told him to be really quiet, take it out of my purse. So he took it out of the purse. He leaned over the bed, he gave Daunte Jr. a kiss goodbye," she said.

Bryant continued: "I yelled at him again, please don't wake him up, I just got him asleep. Then he left. I told him to make sure he locks the door on the way out." 

2:38 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Defense attorney says Potter was trying to protect her partner when she shot Daunte Wright

From CNN's Carma Hassan

All Daunte Wright "had to do was surrender," Minnesota defense attorney Paul Engh said in his opening statement in Kimberly Potter's trial today.

"All he has to do is stop and he'd be with us," Engh added.

The defense attorney's opening statement centered on Potter attempting to use a Taser on Wright in order to protect her partner, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, because he was inside Wright's car and would be injured if Wright drove off.  

"She realizes what has happened much to her everlasting and unending regret," Engh said regarding the moment Potter realized she fired her gun instead of her stun gun. "She made a mistake. This was an accident. She is a human being, but she had to do what she had to do to prevent a death to a fellow officer too."

Potter, 49, wanted to become a police officer at an early age, her attorney said.

Officer Anthony Luckey, who Potter was training at the time of the shooting, made the decision to pull over Wright after he signaled incorrectly, had expired license plate tabs, and a tree-shaped air freshener hanging from his rearview window, according to Engh, but "this case isn’t about tabs, it‘s not about Christmas trees [air fresheners]."  

The defense attorney said Luckey smelled marijuana in Wright's car after pulling him over, and the 20-year-old was unable to produce a license or insurance for the vehicle he was driving.

"So we've got some flags here going on. It's not anything about the tabs any longer. It's about someone who shouldn't be driving a car at all," Engh said.

Officers were doing "legitimate police work" attempting to arrest Wright and identify the passenger in Wright's vehicle to ensure her safety, Engh said.

Engh banged on the table while making his points. As part of his opening statement, the attorney previewed the witnesses the defense plans to call.

"Ms. Potter's good name has been besmirched by this allegation, which is not true, and by the press coverage, which has been slanted, and we seek to reclaim it and reclaim it we will," Engh said in his opening statement.  

1:57 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Defense attorney suggests Kim Potter will testify in her defense

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Paul Engh listed off the witnesses that he intends to call when they present their case to the jury. He suggested that they plan to call former police officer Kim Potter to testify.

Engh said that he will also call Timothy Gannon, former Brooklyn Center police chief. He said that he will call Gannon to testify first. The defense attorney noted that Gannon, who has watched the video of the shooting from multiple angles, will testify about the training and tell the jury that Potter's actions were "consistent" with the training.

He added that while Potter can recall "some details" from the incident, some "are gone" due to the trauma of the incident. He said that Gannon will fill in some details from April 11, 2021, the day of Wright's shooting.

Earlier in his opening statement, Engh said that Potter will tell the jury about her 26-year career, including that she never fired her service gun on duty before shooting Wright in April.

He said that the defense plans to call other officers, including one who was with Potter the night of the shooting and who will tell the jury about the "profound impact" of what happened on Potter, who was "inconsolable" after shooting Wright.

Potter, 49, faces first- and second-degree manslaughter charges. The former police officer has pleaded not guilty and faces at least a decade in prison if convicted.

1:50 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Defense: Officer who grabbed Wright's gear shift and prevented escape would've been killed if he drove away

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Paul Engh said that the officers were doing "legitimate police work" when they pulled Daunte Wright over and attempted to get him to surrender on his outstanding warrant.

Engh said that video will show that when the officer went to handcuff Wright, he starts to "tense up." He added that Wright was acting like a person who was "supposed to surrender who doesn't want to surrender."

The defense attorney said that when Wright broke free from the officer, the scene became "chaotic" as Wright "twists and turns back in the car."

One of the officers then gets in the car and holds the gear shift so that Wright cannot drive away.

"They know they can't let him go, they can't, the court has said arrest him," Engh said.

The defense attorney noted that when former officer Kim Potter said she was going to tase Wright "she hopes that he will comply." He said Potter saw that another officer was holding the gear shift and believed if Wright drove away, her fellow officer would be killed, which is when she decided to use her weapon.

Engh said that Potter believed that she possessed a Taser, not her handgun. "She didn't say gun gun gun...she did not have an awareness of possessing a gun," he said.

1:18 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Potter never fired her gun before Wright shooting, defense attorney says

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Paul Engh said that his client, former officer Kim Potter, never fired her gun over the course of her 26-year career until April 11, 2021.

"She never fired a gun. She never fired one shot," Engh said.

He said that when Potter told Daunte Wright that she was going to use a Taser on him, she was trying to deescalate the situation.

"She'll tell you that," the defense attorney added, suggesting that Potter will testify in her defense.

1:42 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Defense attorney says "all Mr. Wright had to do was stop" and not resist arrest

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Defense attorney Paul Engh delivers an opening statement on Wednesday.
Defense attorney Paul Engh delivers an opening statement on Wednesday. (Court TV via AP)

Defense attorney Paul Engh began his opening statement by telling the jury that "all Mr. Wright had to do was stop" and not resist arrest and he wouldn't have been killed.

The defense attorney said that when former officer Kim Potter said "I'll tase you," that her "language was direct it was clear" and "all he had to do was surrender" but "that wasn't his plan."

He said that Potter pulled the trigger "believing that it was a taser...for why else would she say it" instead of a gun. He said that she killed Wright "much to her everlasting and never-ending regret" but that it was a "mistake" and an "accident."

The defense attorney said that if Potter "does nothing" that Wright would have driven away and "substantially" harmed or "more likely" killed her fellow officer who was trying to pull Wright out of the car.

"All [Wright] has to do is stop, and he'd be with us," Engh said.

The defense's opening statement is ongoing.

12:32 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Prosecutor says Potter's gun weighed "more than twice as much" as Taser

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Video footage exhibited in court shows Kim Potter with her gun drawn as officers struggle with Daunte Wright.
Video footage exhibited in court shows Kim Potter with her gun drawn as officers struggle with Daunte Wright. (Pool)

Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Erin Eldridge described the difference between former police officer Kim Potter's Taser and her firearm, a Glock handgun.

Eldridge pointed out for the jury that the Taser is bright yellow while the Glock is black. She said that the Glock weighs "more than twice as much" when loaded than the Taser — 2.11 pounds compared to .94 pounds. She also noted that when the Taser is activated, green laser lights appear on the target.

Some more context: During the shooting, Potter warned Daunte Wright multiple times that she was going to use a Taser on him while pointing her Glock handgun at him.

The day after Potter shot Wright, police said that she accidentally shot him. Former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Police Chief Tim Gannon, who also submitted his resignation after the shooting, said at the time the portion of the released body-worn camera footage led him to believe the shooting was accidental and that the officer's actions before the shooting were consistent with the department's training on Tasers.

12:24 p.m. ET, December 8, 2021

Potter was training a new officer on the day she shot Daunte Wright, prosecutor says

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Footage shown in court on December 8.
Footage shown in court on December 8. (Pool)

Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Erin Eldridge said that on the day she shot Daunte Wright, Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran police officer, was training a new officer.

While they were out on patrol in April, Potter and the trainee saw an "air freshener" hanging from Wright's rearview mirror and decided to stop the vehicle, the prosecutor said. After they stopped the car, the officers noticed that the tags were expired.

The training officer approached Wright's white Buick and when he questioned the 20-year-old, Wright gave his information and "answered all the questions that were asked of him."

Eldridge said the officers ran his name through the system and found an outstanding warrant on a misdemeanor weapons violation. They decided to arrest him on that warrant.

During the arrest, the "scared" Wright attempted to get back in his car and flee, the prosecutor said.

Eldridge played a video of the shooting for the jury in court. The video clip shows Potter, with her gun drawn, warning Wright multiple times as he is getting back into the driver's seat of his car that she is going to "tase" him. She then pulls the trigger.

After Potter appears to realize that she shot Wright with his gun — not her Taser — the officer says, "S**t, I just shot him, I grabbed the wrong f***ing gun and I shot him ... I'm going to go prison ... I killed a boy."

The state's opening statement is ongoing.