Mychal Johnson, a former police sergeant from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, testified that he came to the scene as backup after Officer Anthony Luckey, an apprentice working with Potter at the time, had detained Wright.
During the traffic stop in April, officers learned that he had an outstanding warrant and tried to arrest Wright, at which point Wright returned to the car.
Johnson testified that when he saw Luckey fighting Wright, he opened the passenger-side door of Wright’s car to make sure he couldn’t get out. He testified that he was leaning against the car, holding onto Wright’s arm, believing that Luckey or Potter would take the other arm to handcuff him.
Instead, Johnson testified that he heard Potter, 49, say “Taser, Taser” and then let go of Wright’s arm because he did not want to get caught between the taser probes.
When the 20-year-old began to drive away and Johnson got out of the car, Potter fired his gun. Potter claims he mistook his gun for a Taser when he killed Wright.
Jurors viewed composite video of Luckey’s dash cam and Johnson’s body camera and heard the sound of Wright’s car crashing as it crossed into oncoming traffic.
Upon questioning, Johnson agreed that Potter had the right to use deadly force to prevent death or bodily harm, which he could have suffered if Wright had left with Johnson still in the vehicle.
“Basically based on these videos and the conduct of Daunte Wright, as far as you are concerned, and you were there, Kimberly Potter would have had the right to use a firearm, right?” defense attorney Earl Gray asked.
“Yes,” Johnson replied.
Gray asked Johnson what would have happened to him if Wright had left with him still in the car.
“Probably dragged,” Johnson replied.
“Dragged and what,” Gray asked.
“Seriously injured, maybe even dead, right?” Gray said.
“And if that was the case, when an officer in your position with Officer Potter trying to stop him from resisting you and Luckey, would it be fair for that officer to use a firearm to stop him?” Gray asked.
“By state law, yes,” Johnson replied.
In his opening statement earlier in the week, defense attorney Paul Engh focused on Potter’s attempt to use a taser on Wright to protect Johnson, because he was inside Wright’s car and would be injured if Wright drove away.
As Wright takes off in his car, Potter says “Shit, I just shot him … I got the wrong damn gun. I shot him.” Then he starts crying, “Oh my gosh,” over and over, and cries, face down on the grass by the sidewalk.
When asked by Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank if Johnson knew Wright had been shot, Johnson said, “I knew a shot had been fired, but I didn’t know if he had been shot.”
Johnson then radioed for additional units.
At one point after Potter shot Wright, Johnson said he traded weapons with her because he knew Potter’s weapon was now evidence.
After another officer told Johnson that he was concerned that Potter might hurt himself, Johnson removed the bullets from his firearm, which was then in Potter’s holster.
Camera footage of his body shows him removing the bullets from the gun out of Potter’s sight.
Johnson, now a senior at the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office, told jurors that he admired Potter and that she had been a good co-worker. He became Potter’s supervisor in 2019, he said.
Potter has pleaded not guilty to the first and second degree manslaughter charges. If convicted, she faces at least a decade in prison.