Closing arguments begin in trial of ex-police officer Kim Potter, charged in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright

Closing arguments to start Monday morning in the trial of ex-police officer Kim Potter, charged in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright.

By Ralph Ellis, Ray Sanchez and Mallika Kallingal, CNN

(CNN) -- Closing arguments began Monday morning in the trial of Kim Potter, a former Minnesota police officer who says she mistook her firearm for her Taser and accidentally killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man.

The defense rested Friday afternoon after an emotional Potter spent hours on the stand, breaking down several times as she described the "chaotic" moments that day in April.

"I was very distraught. I just shot somebody. I'm sorry it happened," Potter cried as a prosecutor asked her about her behavior moments after the fatal shooting. "I'm so sorry."

More than 30 witnesses testified over eight days. The killing of a Black man by a White police officer set off days of unrest in the city of Brooklyn Center after a summer of coast-to-coast protests over how police treat people of color.

Potter has pleaded not guilty to charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter.

The defense has characterized the killing as an accident and argued she was within her rights to use deadly force to protect a fellow officer, who was reaching into Wright's car when Potter fired the gun.

Prosecutors maintained Potter was negligent and acted recklessly in mistaking her gun for her Taser.

While being cross-examined by prosecutor Erin Eldridge, Potter said Wright had not threatened the officers in any way during the traffic stop that resulted in the shooting.

"He never said, I'm going to kill you?" Eldridge asked.

"No," Potter replied.

Potter's testimony was the first time the 26-year veteran had publicly given her account of what happened.

There are 14 jurors, 12 who will deliberate and two alternates. The 14 include seven White men, four White women, two Asian women and a Black woman. They will be sequestered until the trial ends.

Video showed fatal encounter

Potter, 49, fatally shot Wright in April in Brooklyn Center -- near Minneapolis -- after police pulled Wright over for an expired tag. During the stop, officers learned he had an outstanding warrant and attempted to arrest him.

Body camera video of the April 11 incident shows Wright got back in his vehicle and attempted to flee while one of Potter's fellow police officers was partially inside the car.

Potter can be heard yelling "Taser" repeatedly before she shoots Wright. After firing her handgun, she yells, "Holy s***! I just shot him!"

She resigned from the police department days later.

Eldridge presented more than two dozen witnesses over six days, including a policing expert who testified Potter was not justified in using deadly force when she fatally shot Wright.

"The use of deadly force was not appropriate and the evidence suggests that a reasonable officer in Officer Potter's position could not have believed it was proportional to the threat at the time," testified Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina School of Law associate professor.

A defense witness, Stephen Ijames -- a law enforcement expert and former assistant police chief from Missouri -- testified Thursday a Taser would have been effective in incapacitating Wright.

Ijames also told jurors deadly force is warranted if an officer is partly inside a vehicle as a suspect is attempting to drive away, a reference to the officer who was reaching into Wright's car when Potter opened fire.

The-CNN-Wire
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