MINNEAPOLIS — Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter became emotional Friday while testifying in her own defense as she faces manslaughter charges in the death of Daunte Wright, 20.
Authorities arrested Potter on a charge of second-degree manslaughter in April after she shot and killed Wright during a traffic stop. Prosecutors have since also charged Potter with first-degree manslaughter. Officials said the former field training officer appeared to have confused her gun with her Taser during the incident.
Potter testified that officers were trying to keep Wright from driving away from the scene when she yelled “Taser, Taser, Taser.” She began crying as she said, “nothing happened,” and then Wright told her that she shot him.
“I’m sorry it happened,” she said through tears during cross-examination by prosecutors. “I’m so sorry.”
She said she didn’t plan or want to use to deadly force on April 11 and that she “didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
Potter’s testimony came after prosecutors rested their case Thursday, following six days of testimony from more than two dozen witnesses, CNN reported. The defense rested its case after Potter took the stand Friday, according to The Associated Press.
Seth Stoughton, a use-of-force expert and former police officer, testified for the prosecution that on the day of the shooting, “a reasonable officer in Officer Potter’s position would not have concluded that there was an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, and thus the use of force was excessive,” WCCO-TV reported.
Stoughton testified that even using a Taser would have been inappropriate in the situation, given that Wright was behind the wheel of a car at the time and could have posed a danger in the moving vehicle if he’d been incapacitated, according to the news station. He noted that officers already had Wright’s address and that they could have apprehended him later, WCCO reported.
Wright was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant, officials said. He was shot and killed as authorities attempted to apprehend him.
Former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who left the position under pressure after refusing to immediately fire Potter, testified Thursday that he saw no violation of the law or department policy or procedure in Potter’s handling of the situation, according to the Star Tribune. His testimony disputed Stoughton’s claim that Wright could have posed a greater danger if he’d been incapacitated while behind the wheel.
“(Wright) was not in control of his vehicle at the time (Potter) deployed (the) Taser,” Gannon said, according to the Star Tribune.
Stephen Ijames testified for the defense that Potter’s use of force was reasonable, given that another officer, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, was partially inside the vehicle at the time of the incident and could have been dragged if the vehicle had been put into drive, the Star Tribune reported. Last week, Johnson testified that he was holding onto the inside of the vehicle and that both of his feet were on the ground outside before the deadly shooting, according to KSTP.
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