Welcome to our coverage of the Kim Potter manslaughter trial over the April 11, 2021, shooting death of Duante Wright in a suburb of Minneapolis, when then-police officer Potter accidentally used her Glock 17 pistol in place of her intended Taser.
Here’s the now-infamous video of that event:
This past Friday the court under Judge Regina Chu selected the fourteenth and final juror for Potter’s trial. Twelve jurors will ultimately deliberate a verdict, with the last two jurors selected serving as alternates.
The parties plan to meet in chambers tomorrow, Monday, with Judge Chu (meaning, almost certainly, no cameras) to settle remaining motions in limine on the admission or exclusion of evidence, as well as to finalize the jury instructions. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on the morning of Wednesday, December 8–those and the remainder of the trial are expected to be televised.
We will, of course, be covering the trial LIVE each day, with real-time commenting and live streaming of each day’s proceedings, along with an end-of-day analysis of the day’s events.
This post will serve as an aggregation of our prior coverage of the selected jurors, along with the video of each of their voir dire. First I’ll provide a general overview of the 14 seated jurors, and I’ll follow that with more detailed notes on each.
Note that physical descriptors are pulled from reports by media present in the courtroom–the was no video broadcast of the jurors during voir dire.
In terms of race, 11 are described as white, 2 as Asian, 1 as black.
In terms of gender, 7 are described as men, and the other half as women.
In terms of age, 3 are described as in their 20s, 2 in their 30s, 4 in their 40s, 2 in 50s, 2 in 60s, and 1 in 70s.
Juror #2: White man, 50s, editor of a technical biology journal.
Juror #6: White woman, 60s, retired teacher.
Juror #7: White man, late 20s, manager at Target distribution center.
Juror #11: Asian woman, 40s, self-described “rule follower”.
Juror #17: White woman, 20s, recent college graduate.
Juror #19: Black woman, 30s, teacher, mother.
Juror #21: White man, 40s, married, young children.
Juror #22: White man, 60s, a registered nurse.
Juror #26: Asian woman, 20s, in college.
Juror #40: White man, 40s, IT security consultant.
Juror #48: White woman, 40s, former IT project manager.
Juror #55: White man, 50s, cybersecurity engineer.
Juror #57: White woman, 70s, served on two prior juries.
Juror #58: White man, 30s, friend & daughter’s godfather is a police officer.
Juror #2: White man, 50s, editor of a technical biology journal
Juror #2 presents audibly as an older white male, who described his work as being a technical editor of biology science journals of some sort.
In questioning by Judge Chu, it was revealed that in his jury questionnaire he had indicated that he was neutral towards Potter, but also that he didn’t understand why an officer would attempt to disable a driver of a moving vehicle when doing so could result in injury to others. He also felt very unfavorable towards Blue Lives Matter, perceiving it as not really an effort to offer support to the police, but rather merely an effort to undercut Black Lives Matter.
In questioning by Defense Counsel Gray, Juror #2 indicated that he’d be prepared to judge the case based on the evidence and argument in court and that he wouldn’t do so until he’d heard the defense as well as the State’s presentation of their case.
Juror #2 also indicated that he didn’t believe the justice system was fair, in the sense that people with greater access to legal resources will have always have the advantage. He won’t get any argument on that from me. Gray wisely pointed out that in this case, it was his client, the defendant, who had the more limited resources relative to the prosecution.
In questioning by ADA Frank—who conducted all the voir dire for the State today—Juror #2 indicated that he believed in the need for police reform, but that he was opposed to the notion of defunding the police, having said in his questionnaire that he strongly agreed that the police in his community help keep him safe.
Juror #6: White woman, 60s, a retired teacher
Juror #6 presented as a woman of mature enough years to have four adult children (one of whom sadly had pre-deceased her), and who is a retired school teacher. Unlike the roughly 15 minutes spent on voir dire of Juror #2, questioning of Juror #6 took a full 40 minutes.
In questioning by Judge Chu, Juror #6 conceded that she came to the trial with a very negative impression of Kimberly Potter, but also a very negative impression of Duante Wright, finding fault on both sides.
She also noted that sometimes the criminal justice system seemed biased, for example in cases where the makeup of the jury did not reflect the diversity of the community. She also noted that she was aware of cases where it had initially seemed a person was guilty, where they were convicted, and then later more information is discovered and we realize the conviction was wrongful.
Alarm bells went off for me here when Juror #6 described how she’s a retired teacher who gets her news information and analysis from National Public Radio—neither of those sounds favorable to the defense to me.
It was in questioning by Defense Counsel Engh that we first learned that the defense intends to have their client, Kimberly Potter, take the witness stand in her own defense in this trial. I expect this is really unavoidable, given how many of the jurors—including #6—came to this trial wondering how such an experienced police officer with 26 years on the job could have failed to distinguish between her Glock 17 and her Taser
Where the questionnaire suggested that perhaps police officers should not be second-guessed about decisions while on duty, juror #6 strongly disagreed, saying their training should hold them to a high standard, and failure to adhere to that standard deserves second-guessing. Hard to disagree. Engh followed up on this issue by ensuring that Juror #6 was prepared to be open-minded when she heard testimony on that training.
Juror #6 also expressed a strong preference for increased gun control laws, although she appeared to understand little about guns, had never owned one, and fired a shotgun once 50 years prior and never tried it again. This could be a real problem for the defense if this were a non-police shooting, but presumably, even Juror #6 would concede that police need to be armed.
Curiously, when the defense was done questioning Juror #6, Judge Chu immediately informed her that she would be seated on the jury—forgetting that the State had not yet had a chance to question her. As you might imagine, the State pointed out the error, and ADA Frank was given his opportunity to question Juror #6.
Frank asked her to confirm that she would evaluate the testimony of defendant Potter no differently than she would any other testimony from any other witness, and not give Potter’s testimony inherently greater weight because she was a police officer at the time of these events.
Because Juror #6 also came to the trial with a negative impression of Duante Wright, Frank focused on ensuring that she was aware that it was Potter, not Wright, who was on trial here.
Juror #7: White man, late 20s, manager at Target distribution center
Juror #7 presented as a youngish male, who works as a night shift manager at a Target distribution center, came to the trial with a somewhat negative view of Potter. Based on his initial view of the video of the event he felt it was “kind of clear what happened,” but he also professed to be open to new information and to change his opinion if warranted.
In his questionnaire, it turned out that Juror #7 claimed to have once owned a Taser himself, although on further questioning it became clear that it was more an inexpensive press-stun type of device which in any case he’d had taken by Canadian customs on a trip some years prior and never bothered replacing.
Defense Counsel Earl Gray conducted the defense voir dire of Juror #7. Here Juror #7 was asked about his questionnaire response that he was slightly distrustful of police. He responded that this was true, but he also recognized that police have a very hard job he wouldn’t be capable of doing himself, and when he needs police-type help he himself reaches out to the police for that help.
Asked about his thoughts on the criminal justice system, Juror #7 paraphrased Churchill to note that it may not be perfect, but it’s the best we have.
ADA Frank once again conducted the voir dire for the State. This questioning didn’t take long, and I don’t have many notes on it, as not much happened.
Juror #11: Asian woman, 40s, self-described “rule-follower”
Juror #11 presented as a woman, who repeatedly characterized herself as “rule-follower.”
In a remarkable exchange right out of a lawyer joke book, Judge Chu asked her about an event described in her questionnaire in which a friend of hers was killed—as in, murdered—in a fatal stabbing attack.
Judge Chu then asked, “Did this friend recover from this stabbing?”
Huh? The judge herself had just used the phrase “fatal stabbing.” Not sure how one recovers from one of those. In any case, Juror #11 naturally answered, “No.”
Judge Chu then followed up with, “So he or she is still in very bad physical condition?”
Judge—you yourself described this as a fatal stabbing. Juror #11’s response was straightforward: “No, she passed away,” with no apparent sarcasm in her voice whatever.
Then Judge Chu seemed surprised that the friend who had been the victim of the fatal stabbing had passed away as a result.
This bit was funny and brief enough, that I’ll embed it right here:
Attorney Gray conducted voir dire of Juror #11 for the defense, and ADA Frank for the State, but nothing much came of this except they both agreed that Juror #11 was acceptable to them.
Juror #17: White woman, 20s, recent college graduate
Juror #17, presenting as a young female who recently graduated from (I presume) college, went through voir dire in less than 9 minutes from start to end, with the end being having her seated as the fifth juror on this trial.
Indeed, the voir dire was so rapid, I have few notes of interest.
I did notice that Juror #17 had apparently written on her jury questionnaire that she didn’t know whether the jury system was fair, and when asked about this by ADA Matthew Frank her reason for this uncertainty was simply that she didn’t have enough information to know. I thought that a perfectly reasonable position.
I also noted that Frank pressed her a bit on her willingness to apply the law as the judge instructs the jury, whether she likes it or not. She of course agreed.
This is very normal, but coming from Frank in particular it reminds us that the State is trying to convince the judge to give a very loosely-defined recklessness instruction, one substantially lower than the normal burden of criminal recklessness. I suppose Frank wants to ensure that if Juror #17 feels ill-at-ease with finding criminal liability on such a low standard, she’ll apply the loose instruction regardless.
Juror #19: Black woman, 30s, teacher, mother
The voir dire of Juror #19, who presented as a black mother of three, a teacher married to a local truck driver, took substantially longer than had Juror #17, consuming a full 40 minutes. The result was the same, however, with Juror #19 ultimately being the sixth juror seated on this trial.
Notable impressions of Juror #19 include that she owns both a “Taser” and, presumably, firearms—the presumption based on her acknowledgment that she possessed a license to carry firearms. (The “Taser” is likely not a Taser-brand device, but a more common and less expensive “press-to-stun” electroshock device, based on her description.)
Particularly interesting to me was when pressed by ADA Frank on the gun matter, where he was asking if she owned guns just for personal protection, she indicated that the guns were also useful for sporting purposes, as a hobby. In a lifetime of competitive shooting, I can say that women are far less represented in the sport than many of us would like, so it’s always nice to come across one.
Juror #19 had a somewhat negative impression of both Potter and Wright, based on news reports at the time and having seen the body cam video of the shooting event.
She did strongly disagree with the notion that police officers should not be second-guessed about decisions made in the course of their duty, expecting them to recognize that it’s a job of service to the public, a tough job, but that requires maintaining professionalism.
We can’t see any of these jurors, of course, but based solely on audio I’m guessing that Juror #19 is a black female. When asked by the defense if she would have any difficulty returning to her community if she rendered a not guilty verdict, she indicated she would not.
Juror #21: White man, 40s, married, young children
Juror #21, presenting as a white male, was seated on the jury after only about 20 minutes of voir dire, before he was seated as the seventh juror on this trial.
Like many others, #21 comes to the trial with a somewhat negative impression of both Potter and Wright, again based on media reports and the body cam video at the time. With respect to Potter in particular #21 brought a sense that her actions should have been more thought out. On the other hand, he also wrote in his questionnaire that he did not condone running from the police.
I definitely got a bit of a woke vibe from #21, although one that struck me as more passive—a result of immersion in a woke environment—rather than active.
For example, he had completely bought into the Black Lives Matter propaganda that there was a veritable plague of police killings of young black male suspects, when in fact such events are extremely rare outcomes of police interaction with a young black male suspect. When pressed slightly by defense counsel Gray, however, he conceded he had no factual basis for this belief, no statistics or studies.
Juror #22: White man, 60s, a registered nurse
Juror #22 presented as a white male in his late 50s or early 60s. He works as a registered nurse and is studying to become a nurse practitioner. After about 25 minutes of voir dire, he would be seated as the eighth juror in this trial.
He came to this trial with a neutral impression of both Potter and Wright, based simply on having insufficient information to make an informed impression. That certainly struck me as reasonable enough.
He did have an initial sense that Potter had made an error, but that’s hardly arguable, really. The issue at this trial is the degree of culpability, if any, for that error.
When informed by defense counsel Engh that Potter would be testifying, and asked if he would wait to hear her testimony until forming an opinion on a verdict, he agreed that he would.
On voir dire by the State we learned that Juror #22 owns guns, but apparently only shotguns for duck hunting, a longstanding family tradition.
He agreed with the statement that the police help keeps the community safe, and even somewhat agreed that it was wrong to second-guess the police about decisions made in the course of their duties. At the same time, he expects them to be law-abiding in making those difficult decisions, too.
Juror #26: Asian woman, 20s, in college
Juror #26, presenting as a young woman, spent just over 30 minutes in voir dire (most of that by the State) before becoming the 9th juror seated in this trial.
She indicated only moderate impressions for both Potter and Wright. She also had a family with strong opinions on the case, although she didn’t indicate which way those lean, and told the court she’d be able to not let family opinions influence her.
To my ear #26 came across as fair and impartial, and strong-willed.
She has a brother on active duty in the Marine Corps., and believes both Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter are properly just ways for groups of people to voice themselves to the greater community.
Juror #40: White man, 40s, IT security consultant
Juror #40 presented as a white male who described his profession as that of an IT security professional. Although he spent about a half-hour in voir dire, not a minute of that was by the State prosecutors, who simply passed on him without questioning.
On voir dire by Judge Chu, #40 had affirmed that he had somewhat negative impressions of both Potter and Wright, but that these would not affect his ability to be fair. He did indicate that if he learned that Potter had additional issues as a police officer, that would influence his perception of her.
In terms of prior interaction with law enforcement, #40 had a previous DUI, but indicated that he thought he’d been treated fairly, and “got what I deserved.” He also had a couple of memorable police stops on his motorcycle—once for loud pipes, once for riding without a helmet in a different state—that he seemed less accepting of.
He also expressed concerns about his own safety, and the safety of his home and family, if people were upset with the verdict—but he said he was equally concerned about such dangers in the case of either a guilty or not guilty verdict, such that it would not influence the outcome.
In his questionnaire, he’d noted that it didn’t appear to him that the initial arrest of Wright by the male officer present was being “handled” in as “controlled” a manner as it should have.
He also indicated in the questionnaire that he thought Potter should have known she had drawn her pistol rather than her Taser as a result of “muscle memory” from training and long experience as a police officer—like a driver knows which pedal is the brake and which is the gas.
He also noted that Duante Wright himself made a poor decision in attempting to get back into the car and that he was aware that Wright was “known to the police” even prior to this incident.
Juror #40 himself had, while in high school, been interested in being a police officer, and had participated in a Police Explorer activity that sounded much like what Kyle Rittenhouse had been participating in.
Ultimately, #40’s reason for not pursuing a police career was the fear that he might someday be required to use his firearm.
Juror #40 strongly disagreed that one should not second-guess police officer decisions, saying anybody should be subject to having their actions reviewed. He was mostly favorable to both Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter, although he didn’t feel Black Lives Matter was actually achieving any tangible outcomes.
He also owns a shotgun, although he indicated he’d not used it in some 20 years.
All in all, #40 felt like a modest win for the defense. IT people are generally accustomed to and amenable to ongoing training and education, and adjusting their understanding as a result of such training and education, as the field is ever-evolving.
I expect there will a great deal of use-of-force education offered by the defense, and jurors able and willing to keep an open mind and be informed by that education should shift in a more favorable direction towards Potter.
Juror #48: White woman, 40s, former IT project manager
Juror #48, apparently a woman by voice, worked in IT management for tech companies.
She had written in her jury questionnaire that Duante should not have died for an expired license tag, the result didn’t match the crime. Asked about this by Judge Chu, #48 assured the court that she could set that opinion aside, and would be open-minded and fair.
Juror #48 had also previously protested outside a local ICE (immigration) facility to protest the putting of immigrant “children in cages.”
Based on all of that, I’d bet on the defense using a peremptory strike.
The defense did not, however, strike juror #48, but declared her acceptable to them.
The State obviously liked what it saw, and passed on dismissing her after a very short voir dire.
Juror #55: White man, 50s, a cybersecurity engineer
Juror #55 presented as a middle-aged white male who had previously been a machinist mate in the Navy and currently worked as an IT engineer.
This juror definitely had some interesting back story, including having been Tasered while in the Navy as part of his training as a gate guard and engaging in recreational medieval steel fights involving suits of steel armor and steel weapons (with dulled edges).
His wife and daughter had about a year earlier been victims of a carjacking carried out by young Hispanic or black men, but he said he could separate that event from this case.
He owned several firearms, including a couple of shotguns, a rifle, and two handguns, but didn’t seem very active in any type of shooting sport.
Juror #55 indicated that he was largely neutral on both Potter and Wright, as other than seeing the body cam video once he had no real substantive information on the event.
In any case, ultimately both the defense and the State (which has no more strikes) passed on juror #55, so he became the twelfth juror seated on this trial.
Juror #57 (Alternate): White woman, 70s, served on two prior juries
Juror #57 was the thirteenth juror selected, and I believe under the procedures of this court will act as an alternate juror–that is, juror #57 will not participate in deliberations unless one of the first 12 jurors seated is dismissed for some reason.
She presented as an older white woman, reportedly in her 70s, who years prior had served on two other juries, one also involving a police officer–although she recalled few details of that case.
Unfortunately, the broadcast of the voir dire of juror #57 began partway through the questioning by defense counsel Earl Gray, so it’s impossible to know if something interesting was missed. What was missed, however, was unlikely to have been all that interesting to the defense, as they found juror #57 acceptable upon hearing that she will keep their prior jury service out of mind when hearing this case, and will rely on the evidence and law heard in the courtroom.
The State voir dire as usual conducted by ADA Matthew Frank was quite speedy. Frank noted that juror #57 had indicated in her questionnaire that she was sympathetic both to Duante Wright for having lost his life and to Kim Potter for having lost her career in such a manner. Frank asked that the juror not consider Potter’s career in this case–to which the defense objected, and Judge Chu overruled that objection. After confirming that juror #57 would regard former police officer Kim Potter as she would any other defendant, without special favor, the State also passed on juror #57, and she was seated on the jury.
Juror #58 (Alternate): White man, 30s, friend & daughter’s godfather is a police officer
Juror #58 was the fourteenth juror selected, and I believe under the procedures of this court will act as an alternate juror–that is, juror #58 will not participate in deliberations unless two other jurors are dismissed for some reason.
Juror #58 presented as a youngish white male who had seen the “Taser! Taser! Taser! Oh, ****, I shot him!” video twice.
He had noted in his jury questionnaire that his daughter’s godfather was a police officer in a nearby city outside of Minneapolis.
In terms of the effect of protests on his community, he indicated he lived far enough outside the city that he wasn’t much affected. He also indicated he believed the police in his community were treated with respect.
Juror #58 disagreed strongly with the notion that the decisions of police officers on duty should not be second-guessed, saying that anybody should be held accountable for what they do. He also felt that while the criminal justice system worked generally fairly, that some specific laws did impact some groups more than others.
Ultimately, juror #58 was acceptable to both the defense and state and became the final juror seated for this trial.
Tomorrow In Chambers: Finalize Motions In Limine and Jury Instructions
On Monday morning the parties are to meet in the chambers of presiding Judge Regina Chu and finalize the motions in limine–meaning, decide what evidence will be admissible, what evidence will not, what evidence will be stipulated to by the parties, and so forth–as well as finalize the jury instructions for the trial. Because these discussions will be held in the judge’s chambers it is virtually certain they will not be broadcast.
It is notable that the State has been arguing for a version of the jury instructions that would allow for an involuntary manslaughter conviction even absent the traditional elements of recklessness–that is, absent the intentional creation of an unjustified risk of death and absent the intentional disregard of that risk. Under the traditional standard of recklessness, it would seem very difficult for the State in this case to obtain a conviction, as there appears no evidence that Potter intentionally created an unjustified risk of death. Hence the State’s efforts to charge involuntary manslaughter on some grounds less than criminal recklessness.
Opening Statements: Wednesday, December 8
The trial should be back on camera for opening statements the morning of Wednesday, December 8, however, and naturally, we’ll be covering it live, with real-time video streaming and real-time commenting of the day’s proceedings and testimony, as well as a separate end-of-day analysis each evening.
Be sure to join us Wednesday morning, about 9 a.m. Central time for our live coverage of Minnesota v. Potter!
OK, folks, that’s all I have for you on this case until Wednesday morning.
Until next time:
You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.
Know the law so you’re hard to convict.
Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC
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