A Minnesota jury has found former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter guilty of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting of Daunte Wright. She faces a maximum sentence for the first charge of 15 years in prison, and a fine of $30,000. For the second charge, she faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
The jury met for four days, deliberating for a little over 27 hours, before arriving at their unanimous guilty verdict.
The 49-year-old Potter shot and killed Wright after accidentally grabbing her gun instead of her Taser during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. Wright was only 20 years old.
After the verdict was read, the judge ordered Potter to be taken immediately to jail and remain in custody without bond.
Her attorneys sought the court’s mercy and asked for bond or at least the holiday weekend to spend at home. Paul Engh, her lead defense attorney, petitioned, “It is the Christmas holiday season. She is a devoted Catholic, no less. There is no point to incarcerate her.”
Local outlet WMTW says that Engh also said, “Her remorse and regret for the incident is overwhelming. She’s not a danger to the public whatsoever.”
“I cannot treat this case any differently than any other case,” Judge Regina Chu stated. Chu told the defense attorneys that Potter’s bond must be revoked because the offenses presumably will lead to a prison sentence.
As she left the courtroom, the Times reports that her family members cried out to her, saying, “Love you, Kim!”
She responded to her relatives, “Love you,” before deputies led her out the courtroom in handcuffs.
Ben Crump, one of the attorneys on the Wright family’s legal team, issued a statement after the verdict saying America must have “accountability” in cases like these to rebuild trust in police.
The statement read, “The family of Daunte Wright is relieved that the justice system has provided some measure of accountability for the senseless death of their son, brother, father and friend.”
“From the unnecessary and overreaching tragic traffic stop to the shooting that took his life, that day will remain a traumatic one for this family and yet another example for America of why we desperately need change in policing, training and protocols,” the statement continued. “If we are ever going to restore the confidence of Black and marginalized Americans in law enforcement, we need to have accountability and a commitment to listening and to creating meaningful change.”
The remark concluded, “It is also imperative that we focus on the conduct of Brooklyn Center and pinpoint its systemic failures that contributed to Daunte’s unlawful death.”
During the extremely high-profile trial, experts were called to testify to Potter’s character, Wright’s character and to assess the probability of mistaking a Taser for a gun.
Potter even took the stand herself, stating that she had never fired a gun while on duty, making her first time the fatal shot on April 11 that took Wright’s life.
The jurors saw footage from police body cameras and dashcams of the shooting. The video showed that she and her partner, Anthony Luckey, pulled Wright over for having an expired license tag and because he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. After pulling him over, it was discovered that he had a warrant for his arrest.
While apprehending Wright for the outstanding warrant, Luckey asked for Wright to get out of the car. He did.
However, when Luckey went to handcuff him, Wright got back into the car — prompting Potter to pull out her gun (thinking it was her Taser) and threatening to shock him. She shoots him, apparently thinking she was tasing him, and once she noticed what she did, she exclaimed, “(Expletive)! I just shot him. … I grabbed the wrong (expletive) gun. I’m going to go to prison.”
She stated after the conviction, ABC News reports, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
Potter’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18.
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