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Overwhelmingly white jury sits in Kim Potter trial in Daunte Wright’s death: NPR


Kim Potter, a former police officer from Brooklyn Center, Minn., Said she intended to use a Taser instead of a handgun when she shot Daunte Wright on April 11.

Hennepin County Sheriff via AP


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Hennepin County Sheriff via AP

Overwhelmingly white jury sits in Kim Potter trial in Daunte Wright’s death: NPR

Kim Potter, a former police officer from Brooklyn Center, Minn., Said she intended to use a Taser instead of a handgun when she shot Daunte Wright on April 11.

Hennepin County Sheriff via AP

MINNEAPOLIS – A predominantly white jury convened on Friday for the trial of a white policeman in suburban Minneapolis who said he accidentally unsheathed his handgun when he shot black motorist Daunte Wright in the wake of ‘a road check.

Nine of the top 12 jurors seated for the Kim Potter trial are white – roughly in line with the demographics of surrounding Hennepin County, but significantly less diverse than the jury that convicted former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin this spring in the death of George Floyd.

Potter, 49, is charged with first and second degree manslaughter in the April 11 shooting in suburban Brooklyn Center. Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday.

Diverse juries are key to minimizing bias, legal experts say

Legal experts have said that juries diverse on the basis of race, gender and economic background are needed to minimize prejudice in the legal system.

The Chauvin jury, which was split 50-50 between whites and people of color, was “mostly just luck of the draw,” said Ted Sampsell-Jones, professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul.

He said racial and ethnic diversity was important in terms of the jury’s perceived legitimacy, but attitudes towards police and law enforcement are much more important to the outcome of the case.

“It may be true in general that blacks are more wary of the police than whites, but it is not true for everyone,” Sampsell-Jones said. “A lot of the young white people in Hennepin County are much more progressive and anti-cop than some older black people, for example.”

Alan Tuerkheimer, a Chicago-based jury consultant, said even a single juror of color can be enough to change the dynamics of deliberations by bringing more depth and a different perspective to the process.

Potter said she intended to use her Taser on Wright after trying to get away from the police as they tried to stop her, but instead grabbed his handgun. His body camera recorded the shot.

Of the first 12 sitting jurors – those who will deliberate if no alternate is needed – one juror identifies as black and two as Asian. The panel is equally divided between men and women. The two alternates are also white.

The jury’s out on the demographics of Hennepin County, which is roughly 74% white.

Potential jurors were asked about their views on the protests against the police

The attorneys and the judge spent considerable time surveying potential jurors for their opinions on protests against police brutality, which were common in Minneapolis even before George Floyd’s death.

The questionnaires looked at attitudes towards the police, including whether officers were to be guessed, whether they received the respect they deserved, and whether jurors trusted them personally.

Juror No.11, for example, said she “kind of agreed” that officers shouldn’t be guessed.

“I think sometimes you just react, and sometimes it can be a bad reaction, but, you know, mistakes happen,” she said. “People make mistakes.”

She sat down after saying she could put that view aside and look at the evidence.

Several jurors strongly disagreed that it is unreasonable to question the actions of officers. Juror # 19, the only black person on the jury, wondered how Potter could show such an “error in judgment” with his experience.

“It is bondage work, and when you step into this position you have to understand that it is hard work and therefore you have to maintain that level of professionalism when you step into this position,” she said. about police officers in general.

Potter said she would testify at his trial

Potter, who resigned two days after Wright’s death, told court she would testify. Body camera video recorded the shooting, Potter hearing “Taser, Taser, Taser” before she fired, followed by “I took the wrong gun (curse)”.

Wright, 20, was shot dead while Chauvin was on trial 10 miles away for killing Floyd. Wright’s death sparked several nights of intense protests in the suburbs.

The most serious charge against Potter requires prosecutors to prove recklessness; the lesser only requires that they prove culpable negligence. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of just over seven years for first-degree manslaughter and four years for first-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors said they would seek a longer sentence.

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