Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Former MN Police Officer Kim Potter Testifies In Her Trial; Former Police Officer Kim Potter Testifies In Her Own Defense In The Killing Of Daunte Wright. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 17, 2021 - 12:00   ET



KIM POTTER, FORMER OFFICER: He is in college in North Dakota.

EARL GARY, ATTORNEY FOR THOMAS LANE: And are they in holidays?

POTTER: Yes, he will.

GARY: Is your mother in the courtroom?


GARY: And your sister?

POTTER: No, she's not.

GARY: But is your brother in the courtroom?

POTTER: Yes, he is.

GARY: And besides your brother and your mother, your father's deceased?


GARY: And do you have any other siblings?

POTTER: I have another sister and a brother.

GARY: And what are they - do you know what their ages are?

POTTER: My sister - my oldest sister's in her 50s and my other brothers in his 50s also.

GARY: And what do they do for a living?

POTTER: My sister works for a medical device company. My oldest brother works for a parking company. And my other brother works for retail.

GARY: Going back to when you're youngster where did you go to elementary school?

POTTER: --Macula Conception Catholic School. GARY: And where was that located or it is located?

POTTER: Columbia Heights, Minnesota.

GARY: And did you live in that neighborhood?

POTTER: Yes, I did.

GARY: While you're at elementary school while you're going to school, did you have a police officer visit your school?


GARY: Do you actually know his name today?

POTTER: Yes, it's Officer Michael McGee.

GARY: And was he a police officer at?

POTTER: At the Columbia Heights Police Department.

GARY: And why was he at your school?

POTTER: He was doing bicycle safety for grade school kids.

GARY: And you remembered his name. Anything else that was significant about him that caused you to do something in your life?

POTTER: He was - on that occasion he really influenced me as a youngster that the police are good people. And I wanted to be something like that someday.

GARY: And because of that, because of him being at your school, did you start out doing that?


GARY: And what was your first job or volunteer work as a - some type of a law enforcement officer, student explorer, school cop?

POTTER: Well, the first thing I did was I went junior high and who was a school patrol officer if that counts?

GARY: Yes, it does count. And what did a school patrol officer do back then?

POTTER: I was junior high so we help the younger grade school aged children get across the street.

GARY: And did you continue to do that throughout Junior High?

POTTER: Yes. 6th, 7th and 8th grade.

GARY: And after getting in high school, what did you do?

POTTER: The Fridley Police Department came to my high school and had a booth set up for the Fridley Police Explorers.

GARY: And did you - did you join the explorers?

POTTER: Yes, I did.

GARY: Or did you join the explorers? First of all, what is an explorer?

POTTER: It's part of the Boy Scouts of America. It's an area where you can have career enhancement or you can learn about different jobs like law enforcement or firefighting things of that nature.

GARY: Are you an explorer throughout your high school days?

POTTER: Yes, I was.

GARY: I can't remember if I asked you what high school you went to.

POTTER: --High School in Fridley.

GARY: With respect to Criminal Justice, or law enforcement while you're in high school, besides being an explorer, did you do anything else?

POTTER: I had jobs.

GARY: OK. What was your job?

POTTER: My first job was at a gas station.

GARY: What did you do there?

POTTER: Clerk cashier.

GARY: And did you continue that job - high school?

POTTER: Yes, - College.

GARY: OK, so your next visit was college?


GARY: Where did you go to college?

POTTER: St. Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota.

GARY: That's about what 70 miles from here 80?

POTTER: Yes, it's down towards La Crosse.

GARY: OK. It's in Winona?


GARY: And did you - what was your major at St. Mary's?

POTTER: Criminal justice in sociology with an emphasis on elderly studies or geriatric sociology.

GARY: Why did you take those courses?

POTTER: I wanted to go into law enforcement and I had an interest in serving the older community and understanding their needs and wants.

GARY: Did you graduate from St. Mary's?

POTTER: Yes, I did.

GARY: And was that a three year program, four year program?

POTTER: It was a four year program. I finished it in three and a half because I had an internship in the summer.

GARY: In order to internship?

POTTER: In the Columbia Heights Police Department.

GARY: Columbia Heights Police Department?


GARY: OK. And what did you do at the Columbia Heights Police Department?

POTTER: I was assigned to an officer who was in their community oriented policing program.

GARY: Were you also - did you also continue your explorer career while in college?

POTTER: I stopped being an explorer after my freshman year and then I role played at the annual conference.

GARY: What does that mean?

POTTER: Every year the explorer program had an annual conference at Breezy Point Resort and they needed role players and they like to use students or people that were in law enforcement.


GARY: So you're - you graduated from St. Mary's?


GARY: And you - what did you do after that?

POTTER: After that I would have gone to skills in the summer of 1994.

GARY: OK, and what do you mean by that?

POTTER: I went to skills.

GARY: What does that mean? POTTER: I went to the police certification program. So I can get hired.

GARY: And were that?

POTTER: Alexandria Technical College.

GARY: In Alexandria, Minnesota?

POTTER: Correct.

GARY: It was about 120 miles - from there?


GARY: And did you stay there while you're being educated?


GARY: What kind of a program was that? How long was it?

POTTER: It was 10 or 12 weeks?

GARY: And what do you mean? Is that where you obtain your skills to - to apply for - as a police officer?

POTTER: Yes, it was a hand on training. I had the college education, the book knowledge, and then I went there for my skills program or my hands on person - my license.

GARY: After this program, did you go out and try to get a job in law enforcement?

POTTER: Yes, I did.

GARY: And were you successful at first?


GARY: Well, did you have a job at Inaka?

POTTER: Yes, I worked at the Inaka Metro Regional Treatment Center. Because I graduated in January, or I'm sorry, in December, I couldn't go to skills until the next summer. So I had to get I've got a job.

GARY: Alright, so but your work skills? You're - you were in Alexandria, correct?


GARY: And the job you got was at Inaka State Hospital?


GARY: That was between your skills. POTTER: So I got hired there in February. And I worked for a year on a calendar year. But the Inaka City Police Department would allow their students to, or their employees, I'm sorry to go to skills and still have a job on weekends or when they would get back before they got hired as a law enforcement officer.

GARY: So at Inaka State Hospital, what did you do?

POTTER: I was a security officer.

GARY: And Inaka State Hospital is for it's basically a detox center now, is that right?

POTTER: No, it's - it had a detox it had a countywide detox and detox program and also had drug and alcohol abuse, rehabilitation and mental illness.

GARY: And what did you do there, you were in security?


GARY: Does that mean you have to deal with the folks that are staying at the residence?


GARY: And were you successful in that?


GARY: After working there where did you go next?

POTTER: I left there and got hired at the City of Brooklyn Center.

GARY: In what year, you were hired at the Brooklyn Center Police Department?

POTTER: 1995.

GARY: And when were you sworn in?

POTTER: February, the 27th.

GARY: Of 1995?

POTTER: Correct.

GARY: Who was at your swearing?

POTTER: My mother and my father.

GARY: So after you're sworn in, and you started working as a Brooklyn Center Police Officer?


GARY: And what year was that again?

POTTER: 1995.

GARY: So that would be my math 26 years before you resign?


GARY: Is that your statement?


GARY: When you worked as a police officer at Brooklyn Center throughout those 26 years, did you remain a patrol officer during that time?

POTTER: I did.

GARY: Why was that? Why didn't you attempt to go up the ladder like the other officers we've heard from?

POTTER: I liked my work. I enjoyed working with community. I didn't want to be in an administrative role.

GARY: But did you also, even though you're a patrol officer, you did take part in other programs, for example, the FTO program, right?

POTTER: Yes, I did.

GARY: And that's the field training?

POTTER: Yes, I was a field training officer for many years.

GARY: How many years?

POTTER: I don't even have an exact number 10 to 15.

GARY: Yes. And we've learned in this court in this case, what a field training officer does, but very briefly, what did you do?

POTTER: I would get probationers in different stages of their training either in their first phase, their second phase, the third phase or their final phase. Usually, the primary phase or the first phase and the final phase, were always with the same FTO and then other FTS would train the other two stages.

GARY: And why didn't you continue to do that for so many years?

POTTER: I felt that I had knowledge and mentorship that I could help young officers develop into somebody I would want to work with and my partners would want to work with.

GARY: There are other programs that you volunteered for or joined while you're a police officer is that correct?



GARY: And after you became a police officer, what was the first program that you joined or volunteer?

POTTER: I became an explorer advisor for explorer post.

GARY: And what's an explorer post? Is that the younger people that are?

POTTER: Yes, the programs are the Boy Scouts of America.

GARY: And in their program, you teach them about policing? Is that right?


GARY: After that explorers program that you joined, what else did you do as a police officer?

POTTER: I was on the domestic abuse response team. I was also a crisis negotiator.

GARY: --let's stop at domestic abuse program. How long were you on that approximately?

POTTER: 10, 12 years, maybe more, maybe less.

GARY: What did that program until?

POTTER: We would respond. So officers would go out on domestic abuse situations or domestic calls. And if there was a victim of a crime, or an arrest made, or not an arrest made, we would follow up the next day with the victims to see that they were getting the things they needed, like domestic advocates, walking them through getting order for protections that they had questions, and then helping them and checking in with them through the court process.

GARY: And did you enjoy doing that?


GARY: Why?

POTTER: Sometimes there were great successes. And sometimes there were very sad failures.

GARY: There's another program that you're involved in was a hostage program.

POTTER: I was a crisis negotiator for the apparent umbrella of the EOU team, the Emergency Operations Unit.

GARY: What did you do in that?

POTTER: I was a crisis negotiator.

GARY: What does that mean?

POTTER: We would go out on barricaded subjects or we'd go out with the - I guess a SWAT team would be the easiest way to describe it on warrants. We would respond to calls where there may be people in danger.

GARY: And it was your job to try and negotiate with the subject and get him to submit to being arrested.

POTTER: Yes, he or she?

GARY: Was that your main job?

POTTER: No, I was always a patrol officer.

GARY: No, I mean, as far as a hostage negotiator. That's what you did.

POTTER: Yes, I was a crisis negotiator.

GARY: And what other programs are you in?

POTTER: I was on the law enforcement Memorial Association Honor Guard.

GARY: And what is that?

POTTER: It's so - the parent is the Minnesota Law Enforcement Memorial Association. They do a lot of work to help survivors and their families make their way through the process of getting benefits after their officers killed in the line of duty. I was on the Honor Guard.

GARY: What did you do being on the Honor Guard?

POTTER: When I started in 1998 I was on the colors team for approximately a year or two and then I went to the casket team.

GARY: Well, what's the color team?

POTTER: The color team carries flags.

GARY: And the casket team?

POTTER: We would carry the casket or the turn of the Fallen Officer and then fold their flag.

GARY: And would you be in contact also with the victim or the deceased family?

POTTER: Sometimes with the family a lot of times with the chief of police because I would have to hand the hand - I would have to give the folded flag to the police chief.

GARY: And this was throughout the State of Minnesota.


GARY: And these were police officers killed in a line of duty? POTTER: Yes.

GARY: Or other law enforcement officers?

POTTER: Most 99 percent of it would be like - killed in the line of duty or we would do some retiree funerals.

GARY: Do the other programs you're involved in?

POTTER: I did a lot of crime prevention work for our police department and other presentations.

GARY: Crime Prevention presentations?


GARY: What were those?

POTTER: I was assigned an apartment complex in the city. And I would meet with management and we would do some programming for their residents as far as personal safety, locking your car doors taking valuables out of your cars, just regular safety in an apartment complex and then I would do some other presentations on robbery prevention's for banks in the city.

GARY: By the way, when you were doing the - caskets for that program were you aware of officers that were killed in the line of duty by making a traffic stop?

POTTER: Yes, Sean Patrick from Mendota Heights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The objection is overruled I'll let the answer stand.


GARY: During your 26 years as a police officer did you ever receive any complaints were abusing your power?


GARY: Did you ever receive any complaints from the public?


GARY: In training, did you attend all the training sessions required by the Brooklyn Center Police Department while you're there?


GARY: And with respect to gun training, laser training, you attended all those two, right?

POTTER: Yes, I did.

GARY: And did you pay attention? POTTER: Yes, I did.

GARY: With respect to that, in your approximation, and I'm not asking for exact numbers. But with respect to the training, what would you say the amount of training was for the firearm for the gun and the amount of training for the laser? What would be the percentages there?

POTTER: For the firearms, it would be probably 80 percent. We spent a lot more time on firearms than we did on taser.

GARY: And tasers didn't come into the beam until years after your law enforcement officer, right?

POTTER: Yes, I believe trainers in this courtroom had said 2002 or 2003.

GARY: And you started as a law enforcement officer what you --?

POTTER: 1995.

GARY: With respect to laser tasers, lasers - with respect to tasers there has been evidence in the case that you had a taser seven is that correct?


GARY: And the evidence in that was that the taser seven had shaped like a gun fair statement?


GARY: And the taser seven had a dark black or at least a dark handle and a dark top. Remember that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The objection is overruled. You may answer?


GARY: The Taser that you received was in approximately a month before April 11th that you receive this taser, you remember?

POTTER: Here in the courtroom I was told I received it on March the 26th.

GARY: OK. And also, let's - while we're there with respect to these tasers and testing them, the rule that we read said should test the electronics every day, right?


GARY: And there is testimony that you didn't test yours a couple of days, right?

POTTER: Yes, that's what I was told.

GARY: And do you agree with that, that you didn't test it? POTTER: I don't recall if I would ever want off.

GARY: And was that an important feature for law enforcement officers with new tasers?


GARY: They never used them since they had them?

POTTER: Correct.

GARY: And while you were there did you ever use a taser? Use it by actually shooting it in all your years' career as a law enforcement officer?

POTTER: I would take my Taser out on rare occasions but I don't believe I ever deployed it.

GARY: OK, when you take your taser out, it's to de-escalate what is going on is the first statement?

POTTER: Sometimes I have to prepare for what might behind a door sometimes an officer has a gun and sometimes an officer has a taser out.

GARY: Alright. And all the taser that was switched from you to deck one - what are your partners at taser?

POTTER: My old taser?

GARY: Yes.

POTTER: I believe they were just put in storage at the police department.

GARY: And those tasers were all yellow right? The handle in the top the whole thing was yellow?

POTTER: Yes except for the battery pack I believe that was black and there were some markings on the side.

GARY: I'm going to show you these tasers show you this taser.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: I'm John King in Washington. A quick break here prosecutors asking for a sidebar conversation with the judge. During the testimony of the defendant Kim Potter the Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer charged with two counts of manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright traffic stop shooting back in April 2021.

Our Legal Analyst Shan Wu is with me. Shan just the beginning of the defendant testifying in her own self-defense most of it was biography going through her training right when the request was made for the sidebar. They're starting to talk about that her taser had just been switched out that she had an old taser that she said was mostly yellow switch to a new taser that looked much more like a handgun black handle black straight.

And at that point the prosecutors got up and asked the judge for a question but why do you believe the defense attorney trying to raise the significance of that again Potter's defense is she made a mistake?


SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He wants to make it more palpable to the jury that it's an understandable mistake. And he was a little bit of a rush to get to the taser issue. I think he could have done a better job at going through the biography was a little bit like a resume recitation there.

KING: But as we went through here, she says she said right again, right before this request was made, and we're not sure exactly what the prosecutors there - he was about to show the two versions of the taser, the one she had, she said up until March 26th.

The shooting occurred on April 11th. So she had had this new taser only for a period of a couple of weeks. And she conceded at one point that the regulations say you're supposed to test the electronics every day.

She says she may have missed a couple of days of that she did not dispute that. She said in 26 years as a police officer, she took out her taser on rare occasions, but she does not recall ever deploying it.

WU: Yes, she did say that. And that seems unusual. Given that she'd been on the force for such a long time she'd responded to domestic violence cases. I think here it's a little bit odd. They're having a sidebar now, because this type of evidence preparation would have been thrashed out beforehand.

So I'm not exactly sure what they would be discussing right now. I'm sure that prosecution wants to make sure that the jury isn't confused by which taser is which when it was introduced and such.

KING: And I want to get the - back into the courtroom.

GARY: Do you specifically remember your old taser by that I mean the one before the seven being all yellow?


GARRY: And was that an X-26 taser?

POTTER: I believe it was an X-26 P.

GARY: P? So with respect to the tasers, there's been evidence about signing some forms on warnings. Do you remember signing those forms?

POTTER: In our annual training, we would be handed a form to sign and I would sign it.

GARY: And do you remember the warnings on them at all?

POTTER: Not from those days now.

GARY: And with respect to weapons confusion, was there ever any training actual training about weapons confusion as you remember it?


GARY: Did you even know what weapons confusion was? Wait, till I finish the question before you really loved it.

POTTER: It would be mentioned in training but it wasn't something we physically trained on.

GARY: And by that you mean what?

POTTER: There was no training on weapons confusion you would be set in a dark room and told to grab which weapon.

GARY: So I'm going to go now to April 11th, 2021 Sunday. And you surely remember that day? Is that Correct?


GARY: And you're an FTO that day for officer lucky.

POTTER: Yes I was.

GARY: And that the - what time did you go on duty?

POTTER: 6 am.

GARY: And was Lucky on duty at that time too?


GARY: And about what did you do during the morning? If you remember did just do drive around peace police work?

POTTER: We just did police work. He would - we would have checked a squad car if we went to pet calls right away.

GARY: It was a Sunday?

POTTER: It was a Sunday.

GARY: So approximately around two o'clock did you pull up in back a night you Officer Lucky was driving the car right the squad?


GARY: And you were the FTO? Where were you seated in the car?

POTTER: In the passenger seat. GARY: And tell the jury what you remember about first seeing the white Buick on that day approximately 2 pm?


GARY: --and talk slowly.

POTTER: Officer Lucky and I were driving south on Zane Avenue North. We were talking about pursuit policies doing some regular FTO training. And he observed a vehicle in the turn lane with a blinker on inappropriately.

GARY: And was that the white Buick?


GARY: And did you have a conversation with him about that?


GARY: What was that conversation?

POTTER: We just discussed a little bit of suspicious activity. He noticed a pine tree or air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror and the tabs were expired.


GARY: And did he want - did you stop that vehicle?

POTTER: Officer Lucky want him to stop the vehicle yes.

GARY: Yes. Let me ask you sort of a hypothetical. If you had been working alone that day, on Sunday afternoon at two o'clock, would you have stopped the vehicle for speculation? I can't even finish the question, Your Honor.


GARY: That's not fair. They know how to try to--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The objection is overruled, you may answer.

GARY: Our question was, if you weren't with a field training officer that day, and you were on patrol alone, would you have stopped at vehicle?

POTTER: Most likely not.

GARY: And why not?

POTTER: An air freshener to me is not just an equipment violation. And during the COVID times, the high COVID times, the Department of Motor Vehicles was so offline that people weren't getting tabs and we were advised not to try to enforce a lot of those things because the tabs were just not in circulation. GARY: OK. You did stop the vehicle, right?

POTTER: Yes, part of field training is that my probationer would make numerous contacts with the public throughout the day.

GARY: And what happened after the stop? If you remember, give, go ahead.

POTTER: Before Officer Lucky stop the car, you ran the vehicle confirm that the registration was expired, and that the registered owner had a petty misdemeanor type warrant for some type of drug offense.

GARY: And that was a registered owner of the vehicle.


GARY: So after you, you did that while you're still in a squad car?

POTTER: Yes, its part of the multitasking that a probationer will have to do is run a vehicle license plate call into dispatch and initiates their lights.

GARY: OK. Try and talk a little slower. I know you're probably nervous, but I'd like to get all this. OK, so you stopped the vehicle is that right?

POTTER: Officer Lucky initiates the traffic stop.

GARY: And what happened after he did that?

POTTER: The vehicle stops kind of in an entrance to the church on 63rd. And he got on the PA until the vehicle to pull ahead just a short distance.

GARY: Was that because he was parked in the driveway of the--

POTTER: Yes, and I think there was a vehicle trying to come out as I recall.

GARY: OK. What happened next?

POTTR: Officer Lucky - exited - mark squad car. Officer Lucky walked up to the driver's door and I stood at the right rear corner of the white Buick.

GARY: He did get out of the car?

POTTER: Most definitely.

GARY: Why did you stay on where you were standing?

POTTER: Part of it was so I could see where Officer Lucky was and provide cover to see what else was in the vehicle.

GARY: In your experience of 26 years as being a patrol officer all those years is stopping any vehicle at any time that you don't know. Is that to be considered a dangerous situation?


GARY: Why?

POTTER: Sometimes there are guns in the car. Sometimes there are uncooperative people; you don't know who you're stopping?

GARY: Yes, because you don't know, right?

POTTER: Right.

GARY: So while he was standing there, in the rear of the vehicle, did you hear what Officer Lucky said?

POTTER: I could hear parts of the conversation. He didn't seem to be in any distress when he was asking questions. He took out his notepad and it looked like he was writing down something which would end up being a name and date of birth.

GARY: OK, and after he did that, did you to go back to the squad car?


GARY: At some point in time during the stopper, right after it. Did Officer Lucky do anything with in connection with obtaining another squad car?

POTTER: Yes, he called for a second car to come.

GARY: What is that about?

POTTER: It would just be a backup officer. The registered owner had a warrant of some nature wasn't a bad one. It was just a regular petty warrant, which would still you'd want a second officer. Or I guess in this case, a third officer, Officer Lucky and I are considered only one officer.

GARY: And why is - why are you Lucky just one officer?

POTTER: Because he's in field training and he's a probationary employee.

GARY: Alright. So the third officer, Officer Johnson arrived at some point in time?

POTTER: Yes, Sergeant Johnson arrived.

GARY: And was that before you looked up in the computer about this driver of the vehicle or after?

POTTER: I don't exactly when he arrived I know Officer Lucky and I were doing or Officer Lucky and I were discussing running the name he was given through some various systems.