BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. —
- 12 total jurors selected, six women and six men, two more needed
- 19 total potential jurors dismissed so far
- The state has used all its peremptory strikes; the defense has used four and has one left
- Kim Potter will take the stand in her own defense
The third day of jury selection for the trial of ex-Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter produced three more panelists to sit on the jury, including two white men and one white woman.
The racial makeup of all 12 jurors selected so far includes one Black person, two Asian people and nine white people.
Potter is charged with first and second-degree manslaughter in the April 2021 shooting death of Daunte Wright.
The first panelist to be selected Thursday, juror 40, was a white man who said he is a father and works in IT. He told the courtroom he first wanted to receive training to become a police officer, but changed his mind because he was afraid to shoot his gun.
After questioning by the defense team, where he told attorney Paul Engh he’d be able to give Potter a “fair shake,” he was passed by both the defense and state. He was the 10th person seated for the trial.
After questioning juror 40, court was adjourned for lunch. When it resumed, Judge Chu brought back a juror who had already been seated for the jury, citing the juror’s concerns over details of his identity that had been revealed during his first round of questioning on Tuesday. The juror said he didn’t realize the selection process was being livestreamed and that people began reaching out to him as soon as he left the courtroom.
After more questioning from Chu, the juror decided he was still willing to sit on the panel. Defense attorney Earl Gray apologized to the juror for using his last name while addressing him.
The next juror seated Thursday, juror 48, was a white woman and mother of two young children who told the court she grew up on a farm and around hunting guns, but didn’t use one herself. She also stated that she hadn’t ever had any bad interactions with police but didn’t necessarily trust them.
Juror 48 was passed by both legal teams, making her the 11th person seated for the trial.
The final panelist chosen Thursday afternoon was juror 55, a white man and father who said he currently works for a tech company and has served in the Navy. He expressed to the courtroom that he believes there’s systemic racism in the justice system but said those beliefs would not impact his decision in the case.
After both the defense and prosecution passed him, juror 55 became the 12th person seated on the jury.
The final selections for the last two potential jurors will begin Friday. If the two remaining jurors are selected, opening statements, now scheduled to begin on Dec. 8, could start sooner.
The state has used all its peremptory strikes, while the defense has one remaining.
Court will resume at 9 a.m.
Juror number 55 is a father who currently works for a tech company and previously served in the Navy. He told the court that he was Tased as part of his Navy training about 30 years ago. The juror said his wife and children were the victims of a carjacking in Minneapolis in 2020, and agreed with state prosecutor Matthew Frank that it was a “traumatic” incident. The juror said he strongly believes there’s a systemic racism problem in the criminal justice system but told the defense those beliefs wouldn’t have an impact on his work as a juror in this case. He said he only saw the video of Daunte Wright’s shooting one time and hasn’t done any other research on the case. Juror number 55 was passed by both the defense and prosecution and will be the 12th juror in the trial of Kim Potter. Two more jurors are needed to round out the panel before opening statements begin next week.
Juror number 52 told Judge Regina Chu that a friend of hers had been interrogated by Kim Potter when she was working as a police officer. The juror also said she has personal issues with police and that it would be hard to put aside her feelings towards law enforcement and be an impartial juror. Judge Chu dismissed the juror for cause without objection from the state or defense.
Juror number 51 was a woman who said she was concerned about her identity and personal information being compromised if she served on the jury. During questioning by the defense, prosecutors objected to Earl Gray telling the juror “there will be substantial concern in the streets” if the verdict goes a certain way. That prompted a sidebar conversation between the state, defense and Judge Regina Chu. After that conversation, Gray switched topics and asked the juror about her prior contact with police. If Kim Potter chose not to testify (the defense has indicated she will), the juror said it would be difficult not to wonder why, and would wonder if she was hiding anything. The defense used another one of its peremptory strikes against juror 51. The defense has one peremptory strike left.
Juror number 48 was a mother of two young children who grew up on a farm. The juror said she grew up around hunting guns but didn’t use them herself. The juror explained that she never had any bad interactions with police officers, but doesn’t necessarily feel safe around them. Both the defense and prosecution passed the juror, making her the 11th person seated for the trial of Kim Potter.
Before taking an afternoon break, Judge Regina Chu explained that the state raised a Batson Challenge over juror 46, who was described as a "young Asian female." Kim Potter's defense team used one of their peremptory strikes for that juror. Judge Chu said the state didn't make a good enough case that the defense's strike was race-related, and noted there are two Asian jurors currently seated for the trial.
Juror number 46 was a woman who is currently in her first semester of law school. The juror told defense attorney Paul Engh that she is interested in criminal justice reform and wants to see equity in government systems. When asked specifically about police reform, she said police departments should be evaluated individually. Engh asked the juror about posts she made on social media and if she agreed her comments could be construed as unfavorable to police. The juror disagreed, and said she believed her posts were directed toward specific cases, not law enforcement as a whole. The defense used another one of its peremptory challenges on juror 46, leaving them with two more. The state has no peremptory strikes left.
When court resumed Thursday after the lunch break, Judge Regina Chu explained that a juror previously seated for Kim Potter's trial is back for questioning. She said that juror was concerned details about his identity were revealed in court. Livestreaming was shut down for the juror's second appearance, the but courtroom and overflow rooms remained open.
According to KARE 11 reporter Lou Raguse, who listened from the overflow room, the juror said he didn't realize that jury selection was being livestreamed and that his phone "started blowing up" as soon as he left the courtroom.
"My name is not as widespread as I originally thought. I don't think it will conflict with my duty. I was originally just freaked out and scared. You all don't know me, but I'm a very private person," the juror said in court, according to Raguse.
He said he's still willing to participate as a juror, and Judge Regina Chu decided he'll remain seated.
Defense attorney Earl Gray, who had used the juror's last name while addressing him on Tuesday, apologized to the juror. "I'm the culprit who started the whole thing and I apologize. Sincerely apologize," he said. "I hope you won't hold it against my client," Gray added, to which the juror responded he would not.
Juror 40, a father who has worked in IT for more than 20 years, had some interaction with police while in high school and originally wanted to go to school to be a police officer, but said he changed his mind because he was afraid to shoot his gun. The juror expressed to defense attorney Paul Engh that he would be able to give Kim Potter a “fair shake” in this trial. The defense passed the juror, and the state did as well without asking any questions, making him the 10th person seated for Potter’s trial.
Juror number 39, a father of nine children who said English was his second language, told the court that he learned some details about the case on the news. When asked by Judge Regina Chu if he felt comfortable enough to understand the evidence and sit on the jury, he said yes. During questioning by defense attorney Paul Engh, the juror explained that he thought Kim Potter should have been more careful. The judge, state and defense had multiple sidebar conversations before Judge Chu asked the juror about whether he would feel confident enough with his understanding of the English language to sit as a juror. When the panelist said no, Judge Chu dismissed the juror for cause, over the objection of the state.
The second juror interviewed Thursday, a woman who said in her questionnaire that she had participated in protests, said she could give Kim Potter the presumption of innocence during the trial. However, the juror told Judge Regina Chu that she had a prepaid trip scheduled to start later this month, and if chosen to serve on the panel, she didn’t believe she could focus on the evidence while the rest of her family was on vacation. Judge Chu dismissed the juror for cause over the state’s objection. Five jurors are still needed to complete the panel.
Jury selection resumed Thursday morning with juror number 33, a man who said he’s a teacher in an urban area. The juror told Judge Regina Chu it would be difficult to sit on the panel in the trial because he already has strong feelings about the case. He said Daunte Wright “looks like my students.” Judge Regina Chu dismissed the juror for cause after both the state and Potter's defense team agreed.
Three women and two men were added to the jury Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the prosecution used the last of its peremptory strikes, while the defense is left with three.
The first juror selected was a white woman who recently graduated from school and is currently working full time. She was joined on the jury a short time later by a Black woman who is a teacher and mother of two.
Two white men were added to the jury, in addition to an Asian woman who admitted during questioning that she didn’t want to be on the panel, but would do so as part of her civic duty.
Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter is charged with first and second-degree manslaughter in the April 2021 shooting death of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.