Daunte Wright shooting: Minneapolis activist charged with intimidating Kim Potter trial judge
Cortez Rice was taken into custody in Waukesha, Wisconsin and awaits extradition back to Minnesota
A Minneapolis activist has been charged with attempting to intimidate the judge handling the trial for ex-police officer Kim Potter, facing manslaughter charges in the April shooting of Daunte Wright.
Cortez Rice, 32, has been charged with felony harassment with aggravated violations — tampering with a juror or retaliating against a judicial officer, KSTP reported. He was taken into custody in Waukesha County, Wisconsin on Monday. The criminal complaint wasn’t unsealed until Friday.
He is being held at Waukesha County Jail awaiting extradition back to Minnesota to face the charges out of Hennepin County. It’s not clear why he was in Waukesha – but the area has been getting national news attention since the deadly Christmas parade attack the weekend before Thanksgiving.
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Rice is accused of participating in a Nov. 6 demonstration outside a downtown Minneapolis condominium complex he and others believed to be where Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu lived. The alleged purpose was to intimidate her to allow a camera inside the courtroom for Potter’s trial.
According to the criminal complaint, Rice entered the building near Minneapolis’ Loring Park while livestreaming himself on YouTube. "We on her heels," he is heard saying in the video, according to court documents. "What she think … we want cameras. The people deserve to know."
Once outside the door of a 12th-floor unit, he allegedly stated, "I don't know if this is her crib. I think this is her crib right here. We got confirmation that this is her house right here." It’s unclear if the unit belonged to Chu at the time or if she was present during the incident.
The livestream laced with profanity also captured Rice threatening, "We are here for one person in particular." He later shouted Chu’s name and called out, "We demand transparency. We'd hate you to get kicked out of your apartment," the complaint obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune says.
A different protester is heard saying the demonstration was just a "trial run" and they’d be back.
Interviewed by police afterward, Chu told investigators it "was her belief the intention was to intimidate her and to interfere with the judicial process," the complaint says, according to KARE. The warrant for Rice’s arrest was issued on Nov. 24.
Chu had initially ruled in August that she would not allow recording or livestreaming of Potter’s trial. Days after the incident involving protesters targeting what was believed to be her home, the judge cited the state of the coronavirus pandemic and the delta variant in her reversal in now permitting the livestream. Jury selection for Potter’s trial wrapped last week and opening arguments begin Wednesday.
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In changing course about the livestream, Chu wrote in her Nov. 9 ruling that the timing of the protest was unfortunate but had no impact on her decision. She affirmed, "The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we must have an independent judiciary and judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing, protests or attempts at intimidation."
About a month before the incident, Rice had appeared before Chu on Oct. 4 after allegedly violating his probation following a 2017 conviction for illegal weapons possession. Court records show the judge at that time ruled to allow Rice to continue probation instead of sending him back behind bars.