MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) — Jury members in the trial of a suburban Minneapolis police officer who shot and killed black motorist Don’t Wright began their third day of deliberations on Wednesday, after a question from the judge suggested that some Concerned that they may not be able to reach agreement.
The jury asked Judge Regina Chu on Tuesday afternoon how to proceed if they could not reach a verdict. The question came after nearly 12 hours of deliberation that began on Monday and the judge asked the jurors to continue with their work.
The deliberations resumed shortly before 8.30 am on Wednesday.
Former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter, who is white, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder. If convicted of the most serious charge, 49-year-old Potter would face a sentence of about seven years under state guidelines, though prosecutors have said they will ask for more.
Potter stated that she wanted to use her Taser on Wright instead of her gun, and the jury had a second question for Chu: Can Potter’s handgun, given to him as a demonstration with his Taser, be given to him. Can the keepers in an evidence box be freed from zip ties so they can handle it?
Prosecutors presented evidence on differences between the gun and the Taser, including weight, feel, size, color. Prosecutor Erin Aldridge said in her closing argument that jurors would be able to capture them, “to get a feel for both, and to get a sense of all the differences that you heard in court, and see for yourself.” That’s how different they really are.”
Chu said they could handle the gun over the objection of Potter attorney Paul Engh, who argued that it should remain in the box “for security purposes.”
Rachel Moran, a professor at the University of St. Thomas’ School of Law, cautioned against making too many questions of jurors being unable to reach a decision. She noted that the jurors did not say that they were in a deadlock.
“If they don’t express concern or distress about how it’s going, the judge will let them deliberate,” Moran said. He also said that his interest in possessing a gun indicates that he is still willing to consider certain facts.
The judge ordered that the jury be separated during the deliberations – meaning they remain under court supervision at an undisclosed hotel and cannot return home until they reach a verdict or the judge. determined that they could not reach one.
During closing arguments, prosecutors accused Potter of a “mistake of epic proportions” in Wright’s death in an April 11 traffic stop – but said the mistake was no defense.
Potter’s attorneys counter that Wright, who was attempting to get away from officers as they sought to handcuff him to an outstanding warrant on weapons charges, “caused the whole incident.”
The case came about a week and a half after a mostly white jury received testimony about the arrest, which went awry, setting off angry protests at the Brooklyn Center, such as the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd on a nearby Minneapolis shore. Was. Potter resigned two days after Wright’s death.
Potter testified Friday that she “didn’t want to hurt anyone” and that she was “sorry, it happened.”
Chu told jurors that intent was not part of the charges and that the state did not have to prove that Potter tried to kill Wright.
The judge said that for first-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that Potter caused Wright’s death while committing the crime of reckless operation of a firearm. This means that he must prove that he has committed a conscious or intentional act when handling or using a firearm that creates a substantial or unreasonable risk that he was aware of and disregarded, And that he had put safety at risk.
For second-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that he acted negligently, meaning he intentionally took the chance of death or major bodily harm.
Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press writer Kathleen Foodie in Chicago contributed to this story.
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