Ex-cop Kimberly Potter fights move to livestream trial

Kimberly Potter is charged with manslaughter in the April 11 shooting death of Daunte Wright.

A demonstrator holds a sign.
Demonstrators face off with police outside of the Brooklyn Center police station last April in Brooklyn Center, Minn. Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop. Potter does not want her trial to be livestreamed.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

The former Brooklyn Center police officer charged with killing a Black man during a traffic stop says she does not want her trial televised.

Kimberly Potter, who is white, is charged with manslaughter in the April 11 shooting death of Daunte Wright.

As Potter and another officer tried to arrest Wright on a firearms warrant, he was captured on body camera video breaking free and returning to his car. Moments later, Potter can be heard shouting "taser, taser" but fires her gun instead.

Attorney General Keith Ellison's office, which is prosecuting Potter, argues in a court filing that her trial should be livestreamed to ensure Wright’s constitutional right to a public proceeding and the right of news organizations to cover it. Potter’s trial is tentatively scheduled to begin Dec. 6.

The move is an about-face for Ellison, who had argued against livestreaming the trial of Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2020 killing of George Floyd and given a 22-year sentence. Chauvin’s attorneys had argued in favor of cameras in the courtroom.

Under Minnesota court rules, both parties must agree to allow livestreaming of a trial. But in the Chauvin case, Judge Peter Cahill said that because of COVID-19 restrictions and high public interest, the court could not provide “meaningful access” to the proceedings unless television cameras were allowed.

Potter's lawyers argue that under Minnesota court rules, the trial may not be broadcast without the consent of both parties, and Potter does not consent to having cameras in the courtroom.

In a filing this week, defense attorneys Earl Gray and Paul Engh say that “Potter’s life has been threatened,” and “near daily protests take place” at her home.

Gray and Engh argue that because COVID-19 restrictions have largely eased, any rationale for broadcasting Potter's trial "has been vaccinated away."

Racial justice activists say Potter should face a more serious charge of murder in Wright’s death. They protested outside the home of Washington County Attorney Pete Orput, who filed the initial criminal complaint. Ellison’s office later took over the case.

In a memo filed with the court June 30, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank says staff are “conducting follow-up inquiries,” and have yet to decide whether to pursue additional charges.

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