Daunte Wright’s Girlfriend Recalls His Death In Emotional Testimony At Kim Potter’s Trial
The woman in the passenger seat of Daunte Wright’s car when police pulled him over gave emotional testimony on the second day of police officer Kim Potter’s trial, detailing the panic that ensued after the former suburban Minneapolis officer shot Wright dead.
Alayna Albrecht-Payton, 20, was the first of several witnesses to take the stand on Thursday. She recalled Brooklyn Center police pulling them over on April 11, Wright being shot, the subsequent crash into another car and her desperate attempt to keep the 20-year-old Black man alive.
“I grabbed, like, whatever was in the car. I don’t remember if it was a sweater or a towel or a blanket or something … and put it on his chest, like you know you see in movies and TV shows. I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
“I remember trying to just get [Wright] up, and 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 and he was just gasping, just taking breaths of air,” Albrecht-Payton continued. “I replay that image in my head daily.”
Potter, 49, is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in Wright’s death. She has pleaded not guilty, maintaining that she mistakenly used her handgun when she meant to use her Taser on Wright after he got back in his car as officers tried to arrest him during a traffic stop. The white officer resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department two days after the shooting.
Albrecht-Payton said that she had first met Wright about a few weeks before the shooting and that their connection was “the beginning of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.” Wright had stayed overnight at Albrecht-Payton’s home the night before the shooting, and she accompanied him to his parents’ house on April 11, she said.
Albrecht-Payton’s voice began cracking on the stand as she described police pulling over her and Wright, saying officers gave multiple reasons for why they were stopped, “like it was the air freshener, and the tabs, and the warrant.” She said she did not know if there was a gun in the car, but she did know Wright was not carrying a gun on his body.
When officers ordered Wright to step out of the car, Albrecht-Payton said she recalled Wright repeatedly asking police why and what he had done. She said she remembered Wright on the phone with his mother, Katie Bryant, asking her if he had any warrants, or if he was in trouble. The police kept asking Wright to put down the phone, “so he dropped it” before stepping out of the car, Albrecht-Payton said.
“He was really scared, like I’ve never seen him like that before,” she said through tears. “Because if you know Daunte, he’s just really happy, he’s positive and you can’t really be sad or depressed or angry or mad around him. He was just so nervous and flustered, and I could tell he was just scared.”
The woman said that while she did not remember much of the scuffling between Wright and police, she recalled hearing “the boom, the bang of the gun,” and then “looking up, and seeing another white car coming directly toward us.”
After the crash, Albrecht-Payton recalled Bryant trying to FaceTime her son. She picked up the FaceTime call and said Bryant kept asking what had happened to her son, but Albrecht-Payton at the time felt “delirious” and kept shouting that police had shot Wright. She then pointed the phone camera to show Wright’s body.
“I’m so sorry I did that. … I apologize, Katie,” she said. As Albrecht-Payton sobbed for most of her testimony, prosecutor Erin Eldridge would confirm Albrecht-Payton’s statements by repeating them back to her.
“I hear you saying that no mom should see her son dead on the phone and you know that that hurt her and you apologize for that?” Eldridge asked.
“Just dead, period. But yes,” Albrecht-Payton said.
In opening statements a day earlier, prosecutors described Potter to an anonymous, mostly-white jury as a veteran officer who had been repeatedly trained on how to not mix up a Taser and a handgun. The defense has argued that Potter simply made a mistake and that Wright would be alive had he surrendered to police.
Defense attorney Earl Gray questioned Albrecht-Payton about the couple’s activities before being pulled over, to which she replied that they had smoked marijuana that morning but not while driving. Gray then tried to press Albrecht-Payton on Wright’s actions immediately after Potter shot him, in what appeared to be an attempt to show that Wright purposely tried to flee even with a bullet in his chest.
Albrecht-Payton responded by saying that Wright’s hands “were never on the wheel” and that the car moved away from the scene because his foot was on the gas.
The state and the defense also questioned the couple in the car Wright crashed into, as well as several officers and paramedics on Thursday who were at the scene of the crash. Eldridge told jurors that Potter did not try to render aid, nor did she immediately call in the shooting — meaning that officers who approached the crashed vehicle waited almost 10 minutes before trying to save Wright’s life because they “didn’t know what they were dealing with.”
The defense then moved for a mistrial based on the amount of emotional evidence presented on Thursday. The Hennepin County judge denied the motion.