Jury selection resumes Friday in Kim Potter trial with goal of finding 2 alternates

Twelve jurors were in place Thursday for the manslaughter trial against former Brooklyn Center cop Kim Potter in the shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright last April.

Jury selection will continue on Friday with Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu and lawyers seeking two more jurors to serve as alternates. Alternates will hear the case and intervene if one of the 12 jurors cannot continue. If the 12 go the distance, the alternates will return home without participating in the closed-door deliberations.

Of the dozen seated, nine are white, two are Asian women and one is a black woman. Six are men. Six are women. Three are in their twenties, one in their thirties, four in their forties, two in their fifties and two in their sixties.

Jurors will be asked to return a verdict on two counts against Potter in Wright’s death: first and second degree manslaughter. Potter and her attorneys said she would testify and say she believed she grabbed her Taser, but instead shot Wright with her handgun after a traffic stop for expired tabs.

Opening statements are expected in the trial no later than Wednesday and Chu raised the possibility of starting early. She also told jurors that if the trial still goes on December 24, they will take the day off and resume on December 27.

But already, there was a whiff of potential problems in the high-profile case. A white man in his 20s seated on Tuesday feared his identity would be revealed during the global interrogation livestream.

Appointed as Juror # 7 on the court record, defense attorney Earl Gray used the man’s last name when addressing him. The man also voluntarily bore the name of his employer and the group in which he plays bass on Tuesday.

The man returned to court on Thursday for a session that was not broadcast beyond the courthouse. According to notes from reporters from the pool in the room, the man said friends and colleagues contacted him immediately after his hearing.

“I was just freaked out,” the man said on Thursday, but added that he had calmed down over the past two days and felt “a lot more comfortable” and could be part of the jury.

Gray apologized to the juror, saying, “I was the culprit who started it all” when he spoke his name in open court.

The jury in this case is anonymous at this time, but their names could be released months after the jury’s end.

Of the three jurors selected Thursday, one is a white woman in her 40s who has two small children and lives in Minneapolis and has worked as an IT project manager. She wrote on her questionnaire before appearing in court that Wright “shouldn’t have died for something like expired [car registration] tabs. “

She responded “somewhat disagree” to the questionnaire when asked if the police made her feel safe, then explained to the court that “I guess I’m just nervous about authority.”

The other two seated on Thursday were white men.

One is a married computer security consultant and father who grew up in Bloomington and considered becoming a police officer, but changed his mind for fear of “ending up having to use my gun.”

The 12th Sitting Juror is in his 50s, a Navy veteran who was voluntarily tased while on duty, now lives in Minneapolis, works in data protection, and has a hobby that has intrigued lawyers: medieval armored fighting in steel.

The man said he and his friends wore armor and hit each other with blunt axes. “It’s a really fun time,” said the man.

The juror also said his wife and daughter were victims of a carjacking attempt in southern Minneapolis in early 2020. He said his wife was pistol-whipped by four young Hispanic or black men. No one was arrested.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked if his family’s experience would affect him while serving on a jury with a white accused and a black victim. He said he would have “no difficulty”.

But Frank also challenged the sacking through the defense of a potential juror – a freshman law student who said she had been active in police reform efforts. Defense lawyer Paul Engh noted that the woman celebrated the police convictions in her social media posts.

The judge found no basis for the state’s claim that the juror’s dismissal was based on race and noted that there were already two Asian women on the jury.

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

Members of the Wright family were in the courtroom Thursday. Wright’s mother, Katie, told a reporter outside the courtroom: “The jury selection is going well.”

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