Jurors in Kim Potter's trial for killing Daunte Wright end day of deliberations after asking about not reaching consensus

By Eric Levenson, Sarah Moon and Ray Sanchez, CNN

    (CNN) -- Jurors in the manslaughter trial of Kim Potter, the White former Minnesota police officer who says she mistook her firearm for her Taser and fatally shot Daunte Wright, concluded deliberations for the day Tuesday after earlier asking what they should do if they can't reach a verdict.

They are expected to return Wednesday after deliberating just over nine hours Tuesday and more than five hours the day before.

"If the jury cannot reach consensus, what is the guidance around how long and what steps should be taken?" jurors wrote in one of two notes to the court Tuesday.

Judge Regina Chu sent them back to work after rereading an earlier instruction that they "deliberate with a view toward reaching agreement if you can do so without violating your individual judgment."

Jurors also asked the court that zip ties securing the weapon to an evidence box be removed so the handgun can be held during deliberations.

Chu allowed the zip ties to be removed so the gun -- which she said is not loaded and is fully secured -- can be handled by jurors.

Potter, 49, has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Wright, a 20-year-old Black man.

Wright was shot in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, in April after police pulled him over for an expired tag and an illegal air freshener. During the stop, officers learned he had an outstanding warrant and attempted to arrest him, but Wright pulled away and tried to drive off in his vehicle.

As video of the incident shows, Potter yelled "Taser" repeatedly before she shot Wright with her handgun. She then said, "Holy sh*t! I just shot him!" She added: "I grabbed the wrong f**king gun, and I shot him." She resigned from the department days later.

The core of the case is the jury's interpretation of Potter's fatal error: Was it, as the prosecution argued, due to her recklessness and negligence? Or was it an unfortunate accident that does not rise to the level of a crime, as the defense has argued?

More than 30 witnesses, including Potter herself, took the stand during the trial's eight days of testimony. An emotional Potter testified for hours and broke down in tears several times as she described the "chaotic" moments that led up to the shooting.

"I was very distraught. I just shot somebody. I'm sorry it happened," she said, crying, in court. "I'm so sorry."

Under cross-examination, Potter said Wright had not threatened the officers before she fired. She said she did not remember much of what happened after the shooting but acknowledged she did not help treat Wright's injuries or check on her fellow officers.

Potter was far from a rogue officer. She testified that before that day she had never deployed her Taser or fired a handgun while on duty, and she had never had a complaint against her.

The fatal shooting -- just miles from where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin stood trial for killing George Floyd -- set off days of unrest in Brooklyn Center after a summer of coast-to-coast protests over how police treat people of color.

In closing arguments, Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Erin Eldridge argued Potter made a series of bad choices during the traffic stop that led to the fatal mix-up.

"Accidents can still be crimes if they occur because of recklessness or culpable negligence," the prosecutor said. "It's not a defense to the crimes charged."

The defense has characterized the killing as an unfortunate accident that should not be considered a crime.

"Everybody makes mistakes, nobody's perfect," said attorney Earl Gray. "This lady made a mistake and a mistake is not a crime."

He also argued Potter was within her rights to use deadly force to protect a fellow officer, who was reaching into the vehicle when Wright attempted to drive away.

"Even though she didn't know she was using it, she had the right to, and that's what the law is," he said.

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