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Kim Potter trial: Prosecutors document her Taser training

MINNEAPOLIS, (AP) -- A suburban Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Daunte Wayne Wright with her handgun, when she claimed she was using her Taser. She was fully trained in the policies of her department on force use, including stun guns, according to a police commander Tuesday.

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Kim Potter trial: Prosecutors document her Taser training

Kim Potter, who resigned just two days after Wright was shot, should have been well-versed in the policies, Brooklyn Center Police Commander Garett Flesland stated. He said that Potter signed numerous documents acknowledging the policies.

After being pulled over for expired license plates and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, Potter, 49, was charged with manslaughter. The moments Wright pulled away from officers trying to arrest him for an outstanding warrant were captured on video. Potter shouted "I'll Tase You!" before shooting Wright with her gun.

Potter is black and Wright was white, which sparked several nights of protests at Brooklyn Center. The incident occurred while Derek Chauvin (a former white officer) was being tried in Minneapolis following George Floyd's murder.

Although the defense called the shooting a terrible mistake, it also claimed that Potter would have been allowed to use deadly force against Wright because he may have dragged another officer (then-Sgt. Mychal Johnson was also present at the defense's Tuesday testimony. He testified that Potter had repeatedly certified on Taser training and that she was aware of the warnings about their use.

On Tuesday, Judge Regina Chu denied two motions made by the prosecutors. The first was to limit the opinions of witnesses who aren't experts. Johnson, now a major at a sheriff’s office near Minneapolis, testified last Wednesday that Potter's actions had been authorized by state law. Johnson wasn't testifying as an expert in the use of force by police officers.

Chu stated, "I don't intend to prevent any of the officers testifying that, based on their training and experience that that deadly force or the use of Taser was appropriate in the circumstances," Chu added.

Prosecutors also refused to question Chu about the union membership of police officers. They claimed that Potter held leadership roles in the union, including that of president, which gave her a higher level of respect from her coworkers. So that jurors could assess any bias towards Potter, they wanted officers to inquire about it.

Chu stated that she had rejected the motion because Potter was no longer associated with the police union and that testifying witnesses could not possibly be biased to support her case because of her position.

Monday's display of the differences between her Taser and her handgun by the prosecution was an attempt to ask jurors about the possibility that an experienced officer might confuse the weapons.

Sam McGinnis is a senior agent with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and he pointed out the differences in how the handguns were carried on Potter's duty belt. McGinnis also pointed out the handgun's 2 pound weight, which is more than twice the Taser, as well as the differences in triggers and grips.

McGinnis also stated that the Taser uses LED lights and a laser before it fires, which he showed the jury. The handgun, however, does not.

A majority of the jury is white and hearing the case.

The state sentencing guidelines allow for just under seven years imprisonment for first-degree manslaughter convictions and four years for second degree, although prosecutors say they intend to seek longer sentences.

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