Judge reverses decision in Kim Potter trial following protest

Potter, a former Brooklyn Center police officer, shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April.

Kim Potter/Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu ruled Tuesday that cameras will be allowed in the courtroom in the upcoming trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter.

On Saturday, a mob of left-wing agitators protested outside of what they thought was this same judge’s home, angered by her August decision to prohibit news outlets from recording or livestreaming the court proceedings. Chu no longer lives in the condominium where protesters gathered, according to the Star Tribune.

Chu maintains that her decision to reverse her prior ruling was made before Saturday’s protest and is “based solely on concerns for public health and safety given the ongoing pandemic.”

A coalition of media organizations argued in a court filing last week that COVID-19 restrictions would severely limit in-person media access to the trial. Livestreaming, the coalition argued, is the only way to guarantee the public’s right to “reasonable and meaningful access” to the courts.

“The recent protest at the presiding judge’s home needs to be addressed,” Chu said in her Tuesday ruling. “The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we must have an independent judiciary and judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing, protests or attempts at intimidation. Judges sometimes properly change their minds because of changed circumstances — the Court has here. The Court’s decision most emphatically is not a reflexive response to the recent protests at the presiding judge’s home.”

Potter shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April, discharging her firearm instead of her Taser, apparently by accident. She faces first-degree and second-degree manslaughter charges. Her trial is set to begin Nov. 30, with opening arguments scheduled for Dec. 8.

The former lead prosecutor in the case spoke out in June on his decision to resign from the Washington County Attorney’s Office.

“Our criminal justice system is almost at siege. It’s eroding — the very basis of equal protection for all, due process,” he said.

Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office is now leading the prosecution, as it did in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.