Another day, another overwhelmingly white jury is selected to preside over a high-profile case involving a Black victim and a white assailant.
Sure, when it came to the murder case over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the nearly all-white jury did the right thing and convicted Arbery’s killers on almost all charges, but that didn’t change how frustratingly jarring it was to see that in a county that is nearly 27 percent Black, 11 out of the 12 juries selected for the trial were white and only one was Black.
Now, it looks like we’ll be waiting to see if an overwhelmingly white jury is willing to convict Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter of first and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Daunte Wright.
According to the Associated Press, nine out of the 12 jurors selected to preside over Potter’s trial are white while only one identifies as Black and the other two are Asian.
These are the people who will decide if Potter’s claim that she mistook her service weapon for her taser when shooting Wright dead is plausible, or if Wright caused his own death by trying to run away from a cop it turns out he had plenty reason to fear.
AP reported that the final three jurors were seated on Thursday and that two alternate jurors still remain to be chosen before opening arguments begin next week.
One of the three jurors selected is an information technology worker who said he once aspired to be a police officer but changed his mind because he was afraid he “would end up having to use my gun.” The good news is that juror was selected despite him admitting he had a somewhat negative view of Potter who he said should have been able to rely on “muscle memory” to know which side of her body her taser was on. (I mean, there’s that, and there’s also the fact that tasers and real guns are very easily distinguishable from each other.)
An IT project manager and mother of two was also selected and she commented under questioning that there was no reason for Wright to die over an expired license plate.
The final juror selected is a Navy veteran who said he had some familiarity with tasers and that he saw a video clip of Wright’s shooting and “thought the situation was stressful because it looked like a lot of things were happening at once,” AP reported.
Defense attorneys used one of their peremptory challenges to dismiss an Asian first-year law student and prosecutor Matthew Frank objected to the dismissal on the grounds that dismissals legally can’t be made based on race, ethnicity or gender alone. Judge Regina Chu dismissed the objection saying there was no proof that race had anything to do with the potential juror being rejected.
Now, it might be true that particular rejection wasn’t about race, but it would be hard to believe that race has nothing to do with why these juries in cases like these keep turning out to be so overwhelmingly white.
That’s not just some coincidence—that’s America being America.