Sunday, December 19, 2021

Kim Potter on the Witness Stand, Convenient Memory

The trial of Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter has its closing arguments tomorrow and then will go to the jury. Potter testified on Friday. 

As multiple people have pointed out, this is another absurd and egregious example of how young Black people are supposed to remain calm and do everything right when trained, armed cops are allowed to be afraid and dangerous things wrong and then get away with manslaughter or murder. 

In Potter's case, the absurdity extends to her either lying or willfully misremembering in her testimony. Here's what I mean.

A key element in why the defense says it was reasonable for Potter to have drawn her Taser or her gun (they've claimed that either would have been reasonable!) is because Sgt. Mychal Johnson was on the other side of Daunte Wright's car. 

Johnson was reaching through the passenger-side window to grab the gear shift and keep Wright from driving away. Potter, the defense claims, was afraid Johnson would be dragged, and so Potter was defending him from bodily harm.

This is a quote from a Pioneer Press story about Potter's testimony:

Potter said that as Wright attempted to flee she saw Johnson's face and saw him struggle with Wright over control of the car's gear shift.

"He had a look of fear on his face," Potter said in a strained voice. "It's nothing I've seen before."

Potter testified that she shot Wright soon afterward.

Reading that, I wondered how Potter could have seen Johnson's face if he was bent over, reaching inside the car from the right side, when Potter was standing up outside the left side of the car, and near the back door. So I made myself watch her body camera video (if you want to see the chaotic moments in question, start from about 1:20). 

It's clear she had already drawn her weapon (whichever one she meant to draw) before she had a view through the doorway where she could possibly have seen Johnson's face, so that counters the idea that she drew the weapon based on fear for Johnson's life because of the look on his face inside the car.

It's also hard to believe she ever saw his face at all in the chaotic scene once she was closer with the gun in her hand, because both Wright and the other rookie cop's bodies were blocking her view across the car's front seat.

Memory is malleable. Maybe Kim Potter has massaged hers to put a look of fear on Mychal Wright's face, but it seems as though a prosecutor could show that it's not possible for her to have seen his face in the space and sequence of events that happened when Daunte Wright was shot and killed.

Kim Potter drew her weapon when it wasn't needed because to her, a Black kid was a suspect and she was nervous. Despite years of training with her equipment, she drew the wrong weapon. The first is based on implicit bias and the second is obviously at least negligence, which is what you need for second degree manslaughter in Minnesota. A perjury charge might not be amiss as well.


No comments: