A Minnesota state investigator outlined differences between Kim Potter’s service weapon and a Taser on Monday, a distinction that is central to her case as jurors will decide whether the former police officer mistook her Taser for a gun when she fatally shot Daunte Wright.
Video from the scene on April 11 shows that officers had pulled over Wright and moved to arrest him when he attempted to get back in his vehicle and flee. Potter pulled out her firearm and shot him — later admitting she meant to use her Taser instead.
“I grabbed the wrong f***ing gun and I shot him,” she said afterward.
Potter is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter for killing Wright, a 20-year-old Black man. Potter has pleaded not guilty and is expected to testify in her own defense.
On Monday, Special agent Sam McGinnis of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension described the Taser and gun differences in appearance, weight and positioning on Potter’s utility belt. McGinnis is a state investigative agent responsible for reviewing police shootings.
“The Taser is yellow; the firearm is black,” McGinnis said during questioning by the prosecution. “The Taser has a stocky body to it compared to the Glock handgun. The grip of the Taser is shorter and wider than the Glock.”
McGinnis’ analysis of the two weapons revealed marked differences in weight. Potter’s Glock handgun weighed 2.11 pounds, McGinnis said, compared to her Taser that weighed less than a pound. McGinnis said this meant the Glock with the ammo weighed over twice as much as the taser.
The state investigator also described differences in the ways the two weapons are fired.
“The Glock trigger is curved,” McGinnis told the jury. “The Taser trigger is flat with some serrations cut into it. The Taser has an external, I guess, ‘on’ (and) ‘off’ switch safety. The Glock does not.”
McGinnis also testified that he took photos of Potter after the shooting, which showed she kept her firearm and Taser on opposite sides of her body.
“Her firearm was on her dominant side, which you’d have to use your right hand to draw,” he said, noting her holster had a snap retention system to keep the gun in its holster.
The Taser, in contrast, was holstered on her left side, and required her to push a lever with her left hand to pull it from the holster.
Prosecutors have argued Potter was negligent and acted recklessly in the fatal mixup. Her defense has characterized the killing as an accident but argued she was within her rights to use deadly force to protect another officer.
Wright died from single gunshot wound to the chest, medical examiner says
Potter killed Wright by firing a single bullet to his chest, said Dr. Lorren Jackson, assistant medical examiner at the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Jackson said Monday the gunshot wound was the sole cause of death for Wright and his manner of death was homicide.
“Was this a survivable injury?” the prosecutor asked Jackson.
No, he responded. Survival times for such an injury would be just seconds to minutes, he told the jury.
The bullet did not leave Wright’s body, he said, but “made a hole in the skin” otherwise known as a partial exit wound. He said he could feel the bullet directly below the skin.
Immediately after the shooting, Wright’s car veered across traffic and crashed into an occupied vehicle.
Wright had superficial, blunt force injuries to his face, including abrasions and lacerations to the lip, Jackson testified Monday. Yet he affirmed that the gunshot wound, which struck Wright’s heart, was the sole cause of death.
“Far and away the gunshot wound to the chest was the most significant injury,” he said.
Two other people were injured in the car crash after Wright was shot. Alayna Albrecht-Payton, who was in the passenger seat of Wright’s car, testified last week she suffered lacerations to her face and lip as well as a broken jaw and concussion.
In addition, Patricia Lundgren, 84, testified last week her 86-year-old husband was injured in the crash, and their daughter testified that her father’s mental state had deteriorated since then. He is now in hospice care, the family said.
In cross-examination of Jackson, the medical examiner indicated that Wright had a high level of THC in his system at the time of death consistent with marijuana use. Jackson said the use of marijuana had no bearing on Wright’s cause of death.
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