Potter Trial Poses Questions of Fallibility and Accountability

Racial Justice scholar Dr. Yohuru Williams says the trial underscores the need for broader conversations that address police brutality and reimagine public safety.

Safiya Mohamed reports:  


The trial of former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter for the killing of Daunte Wright continues this week.  


Dr. Yohuru Williams is a professor of History at the University of St. Thomas and the founding director of the school’s racial justice initiative. Williams says he’s been impressed with the trial’s pacing. 


“It seems like the judge has a great command of the courtroom and wants to make sure that this is going to proceed without any hitches,” he said.  


Williams says this trial is particularly challenging because one can argue that Potter just made a mistake in drawing her service pistol instead of her taser. However, he stresses the importance of accountability. 


“​​The larger conversation we need to have is around policies, practices and procedures that facilitated what happened that afternoon,” he explained. “The fact that that stop to begin with was unnecessary is one of those conversations we need to be having.” 


Williams says there is much work that needs to be done outside of the trial in order to address police brutality. He suggests a holistic approach to reimagining public safety. 


“It’s not just body cams and technology. It’s kind of reimagining criminal justice in a way that says, what’s our angle here? Is it to make everyone safer, including officers in the  performance of their duty? Or is it simply to empower police to reign over and to be able to occupy communities.” 


Williams believes that, through restorative practices, society can collectively work to tackle police brutality and reduce cases like this from happening in the first place. 


The Kim Potter trial is expected to conclude before Chritsmas. 


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