MINNEAPOLIS — The passenger in the car Daunte Wright was driving when he was pulled over by officers recounted her frantic attempts to revive Wright when she took the witness stand Thursday in the manslaughter trial of former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter.
Alayna Albrecht-Payton, her voice shaking, cried throughout her testimony as she told jurors about the April shooting. After he was shot, Wright drove the car down the street and crashed into another car, then into a fence.
“I tried to scream his name,” recalled Albrecht-Payton, 20. “‘Daunte, please say something, please. Just talk to me.’ I know he tried. I know he wanted to because I replay that image in my head daily.”
Potter, a veteran Brooklyn Center officer, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in Wright’s death. She shot Wright while yelling “Taser” during a traffic-stop-turned-arrest in a Minneapolis suburb. Prosecutors say Potter was “reckless” while defense attorneys say she made a “mistake.”
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Albrecht-Payton said she had known Wright for “two or three weeks,” describing their relationship as “the beginning of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.”
A prosecutor asked Albrecht-Payton about what happened when police pulled the car over. Police bodycam and dashcam videos show Wright initially got out of the car but then pulled away from officers attempting to arrest him and got back in the driver’s seat. Albrecht-Payton said she does not remember “the scuffling.”
She recalled hearing a sound like a “boom, the bang of the gun.”
“Then I remember just looking up and seeing like another car coming directly toward us,” she said.
After the crash, Albrecht-Payton said she attempted to help Wright.
“I just remember trying to just get him up,” she said. “I was the only one out of everybody there who was trying to help him. I was trying to push on his chest and call his name. And he wasn’t answering me.”
Albrecht-Payton said Wright was “gasping” and “taking breaths of air.” She said she pressed on his stomach area because she “didn’t know exactly where he got shot.”
“I took my belt off and I grabbed whatever was in the car. I don’t remember if it was a sweater or a towel or blanket… I just grabbed whatever it was and put it on his chest like you know you see in the movies and TV shows,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Albrecht-Payton said that’s when she picked up a video call from Wright’s mother and turned the camera to point to Wright’s body in the driver’s seat. She added she was “sorry” she pointed the camera to Wright’s body.
“I was delirious. I was just screaming, ‘they shot him, they shot him,'” she said as Wright’s mother cried in the courtroom.
An officer who witnessed the crash testified that he held Wright’s crashed vehicle at gunpoint for multiple minutes and ordered the passengers to put their hands up. Several other officers said they arrived on the scene knowing shots had been fired but not who fired them.
A group of officers discussed using a ballistic shield to approach the car, one officer testified. The group eventually approached with guns drawn and dragged Wright’s body out of the car, bodycam video showed.
Albrecht-Payton said she was escorted out of the crashed vehicle and handcuffed. She was taken to the hospital with a lacerated lip, an injured ear, a fractured jaw and a concussion.
Under cross-examination, Albrecht-Payton said Wright’s hands were “never on the wheel” and his foot was on the gas. She initially testified the car Wright was driving was never turned off during the traffic stop, but she later said she was unsure.
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The woman driving the other vehicle told jurors her husband was also injured in the crash. Prosecutors showed jurors an image of the other car, with the front and passenger’s side dented and the air bags deployed.
Patricia Lundgren, 84, said her husband, 86, was unable to open his door and “didn’t know where he was.” She said they went to a hospital the next day. Lundgren added she’s noticed “a lot” of cognitive problems in her husband, now in hospice care, since the crash.
At the end of the day, defense attorney Paul Engh moved for a mistrial due to the state’s focus on the car crash and its aftermath, saying the testimony and accompanying images had “little relevance” to the case.
“I didn’t see any evidence directed toward the proof of guilt today,” Engh said.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank said the evidence was “directly related” to the state’s case and provided proof of Potter’s “recklessness” and “danger to others.”
The judge denied the motion for mistrial.
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