'He was loved': Daunte Wright's father gives 'spark of life' testimony

"I miss him a lot, every day."

December 15, 2021, 9:02 PM

A Minneapolis jury has heard emotional testimony from Daunte Wright's mother, girlfriend and now father in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter.

Arbuey Wright took to the witness stand Wednesday not to speak to the circumstances of the fatal April traffic stop, during which Potter discharged her firearm, killing his 20-year-old son, but to provide what is known as "spark of life" testimony.

Stemming from a 1985 state Supreme Court case, Minnesota is rare in permitting such personal and often emotional testimony from loved ones of an alleged crime victim in advance of a verdict. In most states, such testimony is reserved for victim impact statements during sentencing if there is a conviction.

Spark of life testimony was also used in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin earlier this year, when George Floyd's brother took the stand to give depth to his life story.

Taking to the stand toward the end of day six of the Potter trial, Arbuey Wright's voice began to tremble as he talked about his son.

"We had a close relationship," he said, looking at a photo state attorney Erin Eldridge had put on the screen of the two together.

PHOTO: Arbuey Wright, father of Daunte Wright, testifies during the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Dec. 15, 2021.
Arbuey Wright, father of Daunte Wright, testifies during the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Dec. 15, 2021.
Court TV via AP, Pool

"You see how, you know, I was holding him?" Arbuey Wright said, choking up. "This was right before he passed away."

In another photo shown on the screen -- one the prosecution used in its opening statement -- Daunte Wright can be seen holding his infant son, Daunte Jr., who is now 2 years old.

"To see him as a father, it was like, I was so happy for him, because he was so happy. He was so happy about Junior. It was my chance to be a grandfather," Arbuey Wright said in response. "He loved his son."

"I loved Daunte. He was loved," he continued. "I miss him a lot, every day."

On the stand, Arbuey Wright described his family as close-knit, hosting regular cookouts and movie get-togethers.

"We did a lot of things as a family, as a group, because we're like, all we have," he said.

Daunte Wright liked chicken, his father said, adding, "I guess we all did." At that, the Wright family in the courtroom laughed and Daunte Wright's mother, Katie Bryant, wiped away tears, according to pool reports.

Arbuey Wright also described working with his son at Famous Footwear, where the elder Wright was manager. They worked together for about a year -- up until COVID-19 hit, he said.

"I was his boss and I was happy, you know, to have my son coming on to work with me," he said.

"It was great. It was challenging, you know, to work with my son. You know, I tried to let him understand the difference between where I work, I'm your boss, and at home, I'm your dad; it's a difference," he said, laughing.

PHOTO: Daunte Wright is pictured in an undated photo released by the Wright family.
Daunte Wright is pictured in an undated photo released by the Wright family.
Wright Family

Arbuey Wright recounted one poignant moment when he had to enforce that boss role with his son.

"There was this is one time where I had sent him home because he was on the phone at work. I mean, he wasn't supposed to be on his phone at work," Arbuey Wright said.

"I come out in the hallway and he's still there, and I'm like, 'Well, why are you still here?' And he's like, 'Well, Dad, I rolled with you! I couldn't go home, 'cause you're my ride!'"

The defense declined to cross-examine Arbuey Wright. The prosecution will likely rest on Thursday and the defense may start to call witnesses.

Katie Bryant and Daunte Wright's girlfriend, Alayna Albrecht-Payton, were among the witnesses called to the stand by the prosecution during the trial.

Potter is charged with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter. She pleaded not guilty to both charges. Her defense has claimed that Potter meant to grab her stun gun instead of her firearm when she fatally shot Daunte Wright, and that her use of force was justified in the incident.

ABC News' Kiara Alfonseca contributed to this report.

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