‘I’m Sure They’re Really Struggling’: Yanez Trial Juror Sheds Light On Pressures Potter Trial Jury May Be Under

23December 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — No verdict was reached on day three of deliberations in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter Wednesday. Jurors have been in discussion for about 24 hours.

Potter shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April.

This isn’t the first time a jury has taken days to decide how to handle a deadly police encounter.

Dennis knows what it’s like to be one of 12 jurors, with a person’s fate hinging on the group’s decision.

“There’s a lot of tension,” Dennis said.

He was one of the jurors that ultimately acquitted former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the death of Philando Castile. It was a process that took 30 hours over a five-day span.

“We could never be without the group. So if one guy wanted to go downstairs to smoke a cigarette, everybody would have to go,” Dennis said.

The group used a chalkboard to visually review things.

Dennis (credit: CBS)

“Most of the time, yes, we were talking, we were debating, we were looking at the facts,” he said.

But it wasn’t a clear-cut process. Ten were initially ready to acquit, but two were not.

“I think it’s important to have at least a couple people being on the opposite side so we can see their side of it,” he said.

When it comes to deliberations in Potter’s trial, defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who’s not affiliated with the case, believes the fact that it’s taking this long is more of an indication of a hung jury than a verdict either way.

“I’m sure they’re really struggling. It’s just such a sad, sad situation,” Dennis said. “We almost couldn’t come to a conclusion.”

Dennis’ group told the judge two and a half days into deliberations that they couldn’t reach a verdict.

“Judge says, ‘Go back and try it again,’” he said.

Consensus came on a Friday afternoon, 30 hours in, with the two holdouts switching sides together.

“You come to know 11 other people pretty good,” Dennis said. “When it’s over, it’s over. I know they’ll do the right thing.”

If the jury can’t decide and there’s a mistrial, Tamburino says another trial likely wouldn’t get started until at least next summer. There could also be a plea deal instead of another trial.

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