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Former officer Kim Potter, charged in killing of Daunte Wright, is going on trial

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Lawyers and a judge were expected to begin selecting the jury Tuesday that will decide the fate of former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer Kim Potter. Potter, who is White, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was Black, during a traffic stop in April. She is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter.

As CBS Minnesota reports, the police chief at the time said Potter meant to use her Taser, but grabbed her gun. Both Potter and Chief Tim Gannon resigned after Wright’s killing, and the Brooklyn Center City Council fired the city manager.

Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the case, said the prosecution will have to prove different things for each manslaughter charge.

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Kim Potter 

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“In both cases, we’re dealing with recklessness or negligence. And for the first-degree manslaughter, that means that there’s an underlying offense. In this case, they’re alleging misdemeanor mishandling of a firearm,” he said. “For the second-degree, they’re just stating that it is reckless or extreme negligence. So for the second one, they would have to show that Ms. Potter was extremely negligent when she did the act. For the first-degree, they would have to show not only was she negligent, but also, she did an underlying crime, meaning the misdemeanor mishandling of a weapon.”

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Tamburino said jury selection in a high-profile case such as this one presents its own challenges.

“It’s going to be difficult,” he said, “because many people have seen this video, many people know the situation, so the issue will become this: regardless as to whether or not someone has seen the videos, read about the case, heard about the case, can they put that all aside and try to be a fair and impartial juror? That’s the person that they want to find.”

Wright’s killing, which happened during the trial for Derek Chauvin, who was eventually convicted of murdering George Floyd, ignited several nights of protests in the city, mostly centered around the police station. Protests spilled into other parts of the Twin Cities as well.

The city sent out a release ahead of jury selection, saying it “has been working with residents, community organizations, and all department leaders in preparing for the trial and peaceful protesting.”

The city said it has implemented measures such as “identifying space for peaceful protesting,” “utilizing space and distance to de-escalate tension in the protest area” and adding patrols from outside law enforcement agencies.

On Monday night, the city council failed to pass a measure that would have given the city manager the power to impose curfews. That power will remain with Mayor Mike Elliott.

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The city council also debated re-allocating more than $1 million from the police department toward policing reforms.

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