A Minneapolis man has been charged with trying to intimidate the Hennepin County District Court judge presiding over the manslaughter trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter.
Cortez A. Rice was charged last week with tampering with a judicial officer, a felony, in connect with allegations that he went into the Loring Park condominium building where he thought Judge Regina Chu lived and made comments meant to intimidate her into allowing broadcast coverage of the trial of Potter, who is charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in April.
The criminal complaint was unsealed late Friday afternoon, four days after the 32-year-old Rice was booked into jail in Waukesha County, Wis. It was not immediately clear why he was in that part of Wisconsin. A warrant has been issued in Hennepin County for his arrest and return to Minnesota.
Rice livestreamed himself on Nov. 6 standing outside the door of the 12-floor unit he claimed belonged to Chu as protesters gathered outside, demanding that Potter's trial be broadcast.
Chu later approved live video coverage of the trial, but she made clear that the demands of protesters were not a factor. The decision was based on the need to maximize viewing of the proceedings while limiting the number of people in the courtroom during the pandemic, she wrote in her order.
Still unclear is whether Rice and the demonstrators were targeting the correct apartment. A man who lives at the unit said he purchased it from Chu and she no longer lives there. However, in her order clearing the trial for broadcast, the judge said the protest was staged "at the presiding judge's home."
The complaint was filed on Nov. 24 and kept from public view for nine days. The prosecution argued to have the charging document kept under seal because "public disclosure ... may cause [Rice] to flee, hide or otherwise prevent execution of the warrant" for his arrest.
According to the complaint:
Rice entered the apartment building and went to the floor where he believed Chu lived while livestreaming on YouTube.
"We on her heels," he was heard saying. "What she think … we want cameras. The people deserve to know."
Rice then stood outside an apartment door and said, "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."
He was later heard saying on his livestream amid threatening and profane language, "We are here for one person in particular."
He later yelled her name and said, "We demand transparency. We'd hate you to get kicked out of your apartment."
Police interviewed Chu, who said she believed that the intention of Rice and the others "was to intimidate her and to interfere with the judicial process," the complaint read.
In an interview with the Star Tribune last month, Cortez denied attempting to harass the judge.
"I don't know why people are saying I was there to intimidate her or anything because that wasn't the case. I just made a live video on it and I was just there to make sure she can hear us," he said.
On Oct. 4, Rice was in court before Chu in connection with a probation violation stemming from a conviction in 2017 for illegal weapons possession. At that hearing, she chose to continue his probation rather than send him to prison, according to court records.