2021-12-03 18:05:09 –
MINNEAPOLIS — A look at the jurors who will hear testimony in the manslaughter trial of former suburban Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter, who is charged in the April shooting death of 20-year-old Black motorist Daunte Wright. Potter says she meant to use her Taser on Wright and drew her gun by mistake. Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday.
The jurors are anonymous by order of the court. The 12 who will deliberate if no alternates are needed include nine who identify as white, two who are Asian and one who is Black. The two alternates are white. The panel is evenly divided on gender.
JUROR NO. 2
A white man in his 50s with a master’s degree, he works as a medical editor. He said he considers himself to be an analytical person, and that in his job he knows how to take a subjective matter and process it as objectively as possible.
He said he has a “very unfavorable” view of the pro-police “blue lives matter” slogan, saying he believes it’s more of a counter against the Black Lives Matter movement rather than real support for police. But he also said he opposes cutting funding for police.
“I absolutely believe there’s a need for change,” he said. “But I think defund the police sends a message, a negative message. I think it sends an emotionally loaded message rather than, ‘we need reform.’ It’s ‘let’s just abolish.’ … I don’t agree with that message, and I don’t agree with the approach.”
He wrote in his questionnaire that he thinks the criminal justice system isn’t fair for everyone, and that people with superior legal resources have an advantage.
JUROR NO. 6
A white woman in her 60s, Juror No. 6 is a retired special education teacher who also taught English to immigrants and said she loves true crime shows.
She is a mother of four adult daughters, one of whom died nearly two years ago from breast cancer. She said this time of year is hard, and she worries about becoming emotional during the trial, but didn’t think it would affect her ability to concentrate.
She said she could be fair and impartial to both sides, recounting a former student calling her “strict-fair.”
She said she doesn’t understand how something like Wright’s death could happen, but also said: “I really feel for any law enforcement because things can happen just so, so quickly.”
JUROR NO. 7
Juror No. 7 is a white man in his 20 who works overnights as an operations manager at a large retailer and manages a team of 110 people. He is also a bassist in an alternative rock band.
He has cousins in law enforcement outside of Hennepin County. He also has a friend who was mugged, but said it wouldn’t affect his ability to be fair in the case.
He also said that he took a gun safety course when he was about 14 and that he carried a stun gun when he was traveling with his band for protection. The stun gun was confiscated in Canada and he has not gotten a new one.
On his questionnaire, he wrote that he was slightly distrustful of police and believes they have a hard job, but they should also be held to the highest level of scrutiny.
No. 7 told the judge he was concerned that people could discern his identity from questions asked during jury selection, but ultimately said he was comfortable remaining on the panel.
JUROR NO. 11
Juror No. 11 is an Asian woman in her 40s, who described herself as a “rule follower.” She said believes police officers should be respected, and on a questionnaire said she somewhat agreed that police officers should not be second-guessed for decisions they make on the job.
“I think sometimes you just react, and sometimes it might be a wrong reaction, but, you know, mistakes happen,” she said. “People make mistakes.”
Still, she said she would make a decision based on the evidence.
She said that she lives “kind of” in an area that was affected by protests last summer and she heard gunshots while at home, something she called “very scary.”
She has a friend who was killed in a stabbing but said it would not affect her view of the trial. She has a brother who served in the Marines.
JUROR NO. 17
Juror No. 17 is a white woman in her 20s who said she recently graduated and is working full time, though no specifics were given. She said she didn’t know enough about the people involved in the case to have an impression of either Potter or Wright, and said she would keep an open mind and listen to all the evidence before making a decision.
She said the protests in the Twin Cities had a negative impact on the community because of the property damage that happened.
She said she somewhat disagreed with defunding the police, saying, “You’re always going to need police officers.”
JUROR NO. 19
Juror No. 19 is a Black woman in her 30s, a teacher and mother of two who said she carries a small purple stun gun in her purse for personal protection. She also is a gun owner with a permit to carry.
She said she saw the video of Potter shooting Wright and said it was chaotic.
“I remember panic in the video,” she said. She had a somewhat negative impression of both Wright and Potter, saying of Potter: “Having this much experience, you know, in that moment, where did your lapse in judgment come from?”
She lives near a shopping center that was damaged in the unrest following Wright’s death. She indicated she considers both Black Lives Matter and blue lives matter to be divisive.
She strongly disagreed that police officers should not be second-guessed for their decisions.
“This is a servitude job, and when you get into this position, you need to understand that it’s a tough job and so you have to maintain that level of professionalism when you get into that position.”
She said that she believes there is more negative information in the media about people with different skin color.
She was asked if she worried about fallout in her community if she decided to acquit Potter, and she said, “No. That is not a concern for me.”
No. 19 said she had never been trained on her stun gun nor used it, and could set aside anything she knows about her device in evaluating evidence at trial.
JUROR NO. 21
Juror No. 21 is a white man in his 40s, who served on a jury once before — in a case involving protesters and trespassing roughly 10 years ago. He said it wouldn’t affect his ability to be fair in Potter’s trial.
He said on his questionnaire that he had “somewhat negative” impressions of both Potter and Wright.
Asked why about Wright, he said, “I don’t condone fleeing from a police officer.” About Potter, he said, “When training fellow officers, your actions should be more thought out.”
He’s married with young children, but didn’t say how many. He has a brother-in-law who’s a federal law enforcement agent in Washington, D.C. He gave no details about his own profession.
He said demonstrations about policing over the past couple of years have had both positive and negative impacts on the community — positive because they started eye-opening conversations but negative because of the looting.
He also wrote on his questionnaire that he was neutral on blue lives matter. “It feels like marketing,” he wrote. “Of course all lives matter, but cops aren’t dying at nearly the same rate.”
JUROR NO. 22
Juror No. 22 is a white man in his 60s, who has been a registered nurse since 1994 and is studying to become a nurse practitioner.
He said he strongly agrees that police make him feel safe and he somewhat agrees that their actions shouldn’t be second-guessed. “You know, they’ve got a difficult job. And maybe it’s just me but I, I don’t know that I necessarily raise them up to a higher standard, but I certainly expect them to be law abiding.”
He also said he trusts the police “until prove otherwise,” adding that he expects police will protect him.
He is also a gun owner, and uses his guns for hunting waterfowl. He said: “The ducks are pretty safe when I’m out there,” prompting some laughter in the courtroom. He called himself a “responsible gun owner” and said he has been hunting since he was a child.
He said in his questionnaire that Potter “possibly made an error” based on a short video clip he saw. He said he believed Potter when she said she didn’t mean to shoot Wright.
JUROR NO. 26
Juror No. 26 is an Asian woman in her 20s who was reluctant to be on the panel, saying she has a lot of friends and family who “are very opinionated in the matter,” she said.
She said she could set their influence aside.
She said her workplace was damaged during a recent demonstration over policing, and that it made her “angry and upset” because she though those who did the damage were just taking advantage of the protests.
The woman said she’s finishing a degree and has finals and job interviews coming up in a couple of weeks. She said she wasn’t certain if she could postpone them all.
JUROR NO. 40
Juror No. 40 is a white man in his 40s who said he once wanted to become a police officer, but changed his mind before going to college because he was “afraid that I would end up having to use my gun.” He has worked in IT security for the last 20 years.
He had a somewhat negative impression of both Potter and Wright, saying Potter should have had enough “muscle memory” to know which side of her body her Taser was on. He said he could be critical of both sides at trial though.
He also said he would have a hard time following the law if he disagreed with it. As an example, he cited an instance in which he was pulled over on his motorcycle because his tailpipe was too loud — something he called subjective.
He also said he owns a shotgun, but hasn’t used it in 20 years, and he said he has been arrested for drunken driving.
The man expressed concerns about serving on the jury, saying that he didn’t want his information to come out after a verdict, fearing for his family’s safety. He said he didn’t fear one particular group or side more than another.
He strongly agreed that police in his community make him feel safe, but said he strongly disagrees that police should not be second-guessed for their decisions.
When it comes to Black Lives Matter, he said has a somewhat favorable impression, saying in his questionnaire that the group is important for raising awareness but he sees little change coming out of it. He explained in court that he believes it takes generations for change to happen. He also has a somewhat favorable opinion of blue lives matter, saying police officers have a risky job.
JUROR NO. 48
Juror No. 48 is a white woman in her 40s, a mother of two who used to work as an IT project manager and has also worked as an elections judge.
She said on her questionnaire that Wright should not have died for something like expired tags, saying what happened did not match the presumed crime. She said she could leave that initial impression aside, as well as other information she heard about the case, and reach a verdict based on what she hears in court.
She also said she had attended a rally at the local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building to protest “children being in cages at the border.”
She said some of her friends and neighbors have signs in their yard or expressed opinions about police reform on social media but she has not. She said the only bumper sticker she has is “one referencing Dr. Who.”
She said she somewhat disagrees that police officers make her feel safe, saying she is just kind of nervous around anyone in authority.
She grew up on a farm outside Minnesota.
JUROR NO. 55
Juror No. 55 is a white man in his 50s, a Navy veteran and former Boy Scout leader who said he competes in medieval steel combat in his spare time.
“I put on steel armor and pick up steel weapons and hit my friends with them,” he said. “It’s a very fun time. … it’s my Monday night football, so to speak.”
The man, who is a field systems engineer for a cybersecurity company, said that he was stunned as part of his Navy training decades ago, but would have no problem setting aside his experience and reaching a verdict based on the evidence.
He said he saw a short video clip of the shooting only once, and thought the situation was stressful because it looked like a lot of things were happening at once, but he had no real opinions on Potter or Wright.
He said he has a somewhat unfavorable impression of blue lives matter, saying “You can choose your vocation, but you can’t chose your skin color.”
His wife and daughter were victims of an attempted carjacking last year. He said that would not affect his ability to be a juror.
He said protests in the Minneapolis area over the last two years have been positive overall because regularly examining what leaders and law enforcers are doing is good for society.
He said systemic racism is a problem in the system, but he doesn’t think that affects this case.
JUROR NO. 57
An alternate, Juror No. 57 is a white woman in her 70s who has lived in Minneapolis almost all her life.
Asked about a statement on her questionnaire that the George Floyd case had made her sad, she said it “caused a lot of trauma in our city.” She said one positive of protests in Minneapolis has been that people have been re-examining tough issues.
“I generally trust the police, but there are occasions when we cannot trust the police,” she said.
She said her father was an FBI agent and an attorney, and she had other family members who were attorneys.
JUROR NO. 58
Also an alternate, Juror No. 58 is a white man in his 30s with a 2-year-old at home. He said he is good friends with a St. Paul police officer who is the godfather of his daughter. He said his friend is “an awesome dude,” but he recognizes that police officers are all different.
He strongly disagreed that people don’t give police officers the respect they deserve, saying in his community, police officers have a lot of respect.
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