Wright’s girlfriend on shooting: ‘I replay that image in my head’
Kimberly Potter, who was a police officer in the city of Brooklyn Center just north of Minneapolis, has pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree manslaughter charges. Her lawyers have said Potter, 49, mistakenly used her handgun instead of her stun gun in the death of Wright, a 20-year-old shot during a traffic stop.
MINNEAPOLIS — The young woman who was a passenger in Daunte Wright 's car when he was fatally shot by ex-Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter testified Thursday, Dec. 9, of his final harrowing moments.
Alayna Albrecht-Payton, 20, opened the second day of testimony in Potter's manslaughter trial in Hennepin County District Court. She told the jury that she and Wright had dated for about three weeks, and he was "just so nervous and flustered" during the April 11 traffic stop that led to his shooting when Potter fired her handgun after shouting, "Taser, Taser Taser."
Things unfolded quickly, Albrecht-Payton said under questioning by prosecutor Erin Eldridge, when Wright attempted to get back into the car after police tried to arrest him and she heard a bang.
"His hands weren't on the wheel, and that's why I was confused, and I looked up and saw a car," she said of Wright accelerating immediately after he was shot and striking another car head-on. "I put my hands on his chest ... I kept saying, 'Daunte, Daunte, please say something, just talk to me,' and he just couldn't. I know he tried."
"I replay that image in my head daily," she sobbed.
Prosecutors played police body camera footage of Albrecht-Payton walking from the vehicle in a daze with blood dripping from her face as police handcuffed her. She testified that she suffered a lacerated lip and ear and broken jaw in the crash.
Under cross-examination, Albrecht-Payton told defense attorney Earl Gray that Wright had stayed with her the night before and they had smoked marijuana that morning, but not in the vehicle.
Brooklyn Center police officer Alan Salvosa, who was on his way to the traffic stop and saw the head-on crash occur directly in front of him, took the stand and walked jurors through a 16-minute body camera video of the immediate aftermath. He repeatedly ordered the occupants of Wright's car out at gunpoint, after which Albrecht-Payton said, "He's not breathing," before eventually getting out.
After several minutes police then pulled Wright out of the car and began rendering medical assistance, but he was soon pronounced dead and could be seen on Salvosa's body camera video covered by a sheet. The video showed confusion among the officers as to who shot Wright and when.
"He's got a gunshot wound. I didn't fire it, I don't know," Salvosa is heard saying on the video.
Another officer who responded to the scene, Dan Irish of the Champlin Police Department, explained how he assisted with pulling Wright's limp body from the driver's seat of the car and helped get him to the ground before joining others in life-saving efforts.
Moments later, a paramedic told him and the others to stop, Irish recalled. He said in court that led him to conclude "that the party was deceased. ... I assisted to get a sheet from the paramedics so we could cover up his body."
Jurors also watched Irish's graphic body camera video of Wright being pulled from the car.
A third officer to testify, Jeff Sommers of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, followed and offered a similar account as the two before him. As the prosecution was showing to the jury the video from Sommers' body worn camera, objections of redundancy were raised by the defense to the point that Judge Regina Chu ordered a halt to graphic video from the crash scene.
Chu then expanded her restriction on graphic images to photographs. This came as Michael Morelock, an ambulance operations supervisor with North Memorial Health, began testifying about his actions leading up to declaring Wright dead.
Earlier in the day, prosecutors heard from the woman who was driving in the area of the shooting and collided head-on with Wright's vehicle. Patricia Lundgren, of Brooklyn Park, said the crash totaled her car and has had a debilitating affect on her husband, who was in the front passenger seat of the couple's Subaru Outback.
Lundgren, 84, said the impact left her car "spinning around. … The [protective air] bags were all inflated. My husband was moaning."
Moments later, "I heard the police demanding that the [other] car, 'Get out! Get Out!'" Lundgren said.
Lundgren's 86-year-old husband, Kenneth, has been "a lot worse since the crash" cognitively and has been receiving hospice care. "He has lots of problems now."
Lundgren's daughter, Denise Lundgren Wells, followed and substantiated her mother's description of her father's decline. He grew increasingly difficult to understand, talked about death, and "he became real belligerent [with medical personnel]," she said.
Also testifying was Officer Anthony Luckey, who was being trained by Potter and decided to follow Wright after seeing him use a right-turn signal while in the left-turn lane.
Luckey testified about his decision to stop and arrest Wright, noting that a records search found a warrant for Wright on a gross misdemeanor gun charge and protection order filed in court against him by a woman.
Luckey told how Wright resisted as he tried to handcuff him and as Potter grabbed his right arm, Wright got back in the vehicle and gripped the steering wheel.
Luckey said Wright was obviously trying to drive away as Potter said, "I'm gonna tase you" and "Taser. Taser. Taser."
Under cross-examination from Paul Engh, Luckey said Wright should not have been driving. Along with marijuana residue on the console and the drug's odor evident, Engh said, "You had a number of concerns about him?" Luckey replied, "Yes."
Upon learning of the warrant, Engh said, "You couldn't let him go?" Luckey replied, "No."
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