MINNEAPOLIS — Cameras will be allowed inside the courtroom for the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
According to court documents, Judge Regina M. Chu will allow cameras inside the courtroom for the trial of Potter, who is charged with fatally shooting Black motorist Daunte Wright earlier this year. Jury selection will begin Nov. 30 with opening statements set to start on Dec. 8.
Potter will stand trial in Hennepin County on first- and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Wright, who was shot after being stopped April 11 for a traffic violation.
The order cites the COVID-19 pandemic and the "fast-spreading Delta variant" as the reason behind allowing cameras inside the courts.
"The Court initially denied audio and video (A/V) coverage of the trial on August 5, 2021," the court order reads. "At that time, this Court, like many Minnesotans, anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic would be on the wane by November 30, the trial date. That has not turned out to be the case. The fast-spreading Delta variant has resulted in increasing infections and hospitalizations in the state. The variant poses a threat of infection, even among those fully vaccinated."
This is just the second time the state has allowed cameras inside the courtroom for a criminal trial — the first coming earlier this year for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial.
According to the court order, audio and video record, broadcasting and livestreaming will all be allowed, but only matters that are on the record will be heard. Video will allowed to be shown -- on or off the record -- as long as the judge is on the bench and the trial is in session, the order says.
The order says up to three cameras will be allowed inside the courtroom, and that no jury members or potential jury members will be shown at any point throughout the trial. This will also be the case for for the Wright and Potter families unless they consent in writing or verbally on record.
Audio of jury members and potential jury members will be allowed, and should a witness under the age of 18 appear in the trial, a parent or guardian will need to agree in writing before the witness is called for them to be shown on video. Audio of anyone under 18 will be allowed regardless of whether video is allowed.
The order also read that a recent incident where protesters targeted the home of Judge Chu over the weekend had nothing to do with the ruling.
"The honest answer is the protest did not have any impact on the Court’s decision, nor should it," the order reads. "The Court’s decision to allow A/V coverage was made before the protest and it is based solely on concerns for public health and safety given the ongoing pandemic."