Sunday, April 14

Kim Potter to be sentenced today for Daunte Wright’s death

Kim Potter.
Kim Potter. (pool)

Former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison by a Minnesota judge Friday for fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright while yelling “Taser” during a traffic-stop-turned-arrest on April 11, 2021.

Potter was convicted in December of first-degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/handling of a firearm and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Wright.

Potter is required to serve two-thirds of that time (or 16 months) of her sentence in prison. With good behavior, she will be eligible for a supervised release for the other third party.

The judge said there will be a fine of $1,000 and a surcharge of $78 to be taken out of prison wages or due within 180 days. She noted that Potter has the right to appeal the conviction and sentence.

The sentence is a significant downward departure from what state sentencing guidelines recommend for someone with no prior criminal record, like Potter. The guidelines give a judge discretion to sentence convicted offenders with no criminal history roughly between 6 and 8.5 years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 86 months.

Prior to sentencing, members of Wright’s family asked the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asked Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu to impose the presumptive sentence of 86 months in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday. That sentence, he wrote, would reflect the “seriousness of the loss of (Wright’s) life” as well as Potter’s “guilt” in causing Wright’s death.

Potter’s attorneys had argued for a lesser sentence, pointing in their own filings to her lack of a criminal record as well as her “evident contrition.” Potter had apologized to Wright’s family, her attorneys de ella wrote, and she did so again at her sentencing Friday.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” Chu said before announcing the sentence. “In making my decision, I look to the purposes of incarceration. There are four: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation. Three of the four would not be served in this case.”

“The evidence is undisputed that officer Potter never intended to use her firearm,” Chu said.

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“This case is highly unusual. … This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine-and-a-half minutes as he gasped for air,” Chu said, referring to the George Floyd married.

“I recognize there will be those who disagree with the sentence, that I granted a significant downward departure does not in any way diminish Daunte Wright’s life,” she added. “His life mattered.”

The former officer took the stand and testified before the jury during the trial, breaking down in tears as she recounted the shooting, eventually apologizing and insisting she “didn’t want to hurt anybody.” During the emotional testimony, Potter said she remembered “yelling ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ and nothing happened, and then he told me I shot him.”

Potter has been incarcerated since her conviction at the state correctional facility in Shakopee, according to records from the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

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