Prosecutor rips Kim Potter’s ‘wrong gun’ defense in opening statements at ex-officer’s trial in the killing of Daunte Wright

In this screen grab from video,Prosecutor Erin Eldridge delivers the state's opening statement as Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presides over court Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter in the April 11, 2021, death of Daunte Wright, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.
In this screen grab from video,Prosecutor Erin Eldridge delivers the state’s opening statement as Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presides over court Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter in the April 11, 2021, death of Daunte Wright, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • A prosecutor ripped former police officer Kim Potter’s “wrong gun” defense in opening statements of the ex-cop’s manslaughter trial.
  • Potter faces manslaughter charges for the shooting death of Daunte Wright in April.
  • Potter has claimed that she meant to grab her taser instead of her gun when she shot Wright during a traffic stop.

Prosecutor Erin Eldridge blasted former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter’s “wrong gun” defense in opening statements of the ex-cop’s manslaughter trial on Wednesday. 

Potter, who is white, faces charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter for the shooting death of Daunte Wright, a Black man, in April 2021.

Potter has pleaded not guilty to both charges, claiming she accidentally grabbed her gun instead of her Taser, which was holstered on the opposite side of her body.

But Eldridge told the jury, “There’s no do-over when you take a young man’s life.”

“We expect [police officers] not to betray their badge and we expect them to uphold their oath,” the prosecutor said in court. “We trust them to know wrong from right — and left from right. This case is about an officer who knew not to get it dead wrong. But she failed to get it right”

Potter and her partner pulled Wright and his girlfriend over for driving with an expired license plate in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 11, and tried to arrest him after learning that he had a warrant out for his arrest on a different charge, police say. 

Body camera footage of the traffic stop shows Potter shooting Wright in the chest while shouting “taser!” after Wright tried to get back into his car. Potter has claimed that she thought she reached for her taser instead of her gun during the shooting.

Eldridge emphasized Potter’s training during opening statements and claimed that Potter “flouted her training and flouted police policy” during the shooting.

According to Eldridge, Potter knew how and when to use both her gun and her taser in different situations. Eldridge said that officers in Brooklyn Center are trained not to use a taser if it could cause injury to others, including the use of a taser on someone who is operating a vehicle.

“Mere flight from a pursuing officer is not good cause for the use of a taser,” Eldridge told the jury.

Eldridge also claimed that Potter had been trained that tasers are “serious weapons and should be treated as such.” 

Potter, who is right-handed, carried her gun on the right side of her belt, and her taser on her left, according to Eldridge.

Eldridge also said Potter received training going back as far as 2016 that said, “if you’re right-handed and you carry your taser on the dominant side, they instructed their trainees there’s a higher risk of weapon confusion.”

Jury selection concluded in the trial on December 3 with Potter’s defense and the prosecution selecting a mostly white jury. Nine of the 12 jurors are white, one is Black, and two identify as Asian, according to the Hennepin County District Court. 

Potter is expected to testify in the trial.