The former Minneapolis area police officer who shot and killed a Black motorist learned her fate in a Minnesota courtroom Friday.
Update 12:36 p.m. EST Feb. 18: Katie Wright, the mother of Daunte Wright, spoke after the sentencing.
She said that Kim Potter “murdered my son” and that “today the justice system murdered him all over again,” The Associated Press reported.
Arbuey Wright said that the sentence in his son’s death was “a slap on the wrist,” the AP reported.
Update 12:00 p.m. EST Feb. 18: Judge Regina Chu sentenced Kim Potter to a total of 24 months, with 16 months served in prison and the remainder to be served on supervised release. She will also be credited for the time she has already served — 58 days.
Potter was sentenced for first-degree manslaughter under the state law, The Associated Press reported. That conviction could have had the potential of just over six years to eight and a half in prison. The presumptive sentence was about seven years.
An emotional Chu said there were mitigating factors that supported a lighter sentence.
In handing down the decision, Chu explained how she came to the ruling.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” Chu said, CNN reported. “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.”
Chu said Potter did not intend to use her gun and did not have a criminal history. She also said it is not the same case as the death of George Floyd.
“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, CNN reported.
“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 said. “His life mattered.”
In addition to the sentence, Potter has been fined $1,000 with a $78 surcharge that will be taken from her prison wages or due within 180 days, CNN reported.
Potter can appeal her sentence.
Update 11:44 a.m. EST Feb. 18: Kim Potter tearfully addressed the family of Daunte Wright, apologizing for killing the 20-year-old man. She claims she prays for Wright and the family “many times a day.”
Judge Regina Chu said this was one of the saddest cases in her many years on the bench.
Chu called Potter’s shooting of Wright a “tragic mistake” saying that Potter drew her gun but intended to use her Taser.
Chu highlighted Potter’s 26 years as a police officer before handing down the sentence. She also noted that she had received hundreds of letters from family members, friends and strangers who wrote of Potter’s history.
Chu also said that “Potter is extremely remorseful” for the killing of Wright.
Chu reminded those in attendance that sentencing guidelines are suggestions, but that it is the discretion of the court for sentencing.
Update 10:50 a.m. EST Feb. 18: Daunte Wright’s father, Arbuey Wright, made an impact statement prior to Kim Potter’s sentencing, telling the judge, “Daunte’s life was cut short by Kim Potter, who claims she thought she had a Taser. She pointed a gun into my son’s chest, pulled the trigger, not only killing Daunte by damaging his heart to the point of unrepairable... but she also damaged my whole family’s heart. Nothing will ever be the same,” Arbuey Wright said, CNN reported.
Update 10:23 a.m. EST Feb. 18: The sentencing hearing has begun for Kim Potter.
Prosecutors are asking for more than seven years in prison for Potter according to a memo filed earlier this week, to reflect the “seriousness of the loss of [Wright’s] life” and for Potter’s “culpability,” CNN reported.
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, took the stand to make a statement, saying “I’ll never be able to forgive you [Potter] for what you’ve stolen from us,” The Associated Press reported.
Wright’s mother also said she will only ever call Potter as the defendant because the former officer never called her son by his name, only calling him “the driver.”
Katie Wright also spoke about talking to her son after he was shot, telling him he would be OK.
“A police officer that took the oath to serve and protect for 26 years, but not on this day. On this day, she did not protect. She failed Daunte, our family and our community,” she said, according to CNN.
Original report: Kim Potter was convicted on Dec. 23 of manslaughter for the death of Daunte Wright.
Potter’s partner, a trainee, had stopped Wright’s car in the afternoon of April 11, 2021. They initially stopped Wright because his air freshener was blocking part of the windshield and his license plate was expired. During the stop, officers discovered that he had an outstanding warrant for missing a court date and when they tried to arrest him, Wright got back into his car and tried to drive away, The Associated Press and The New York Times reported.
Anthony Luckey, the rookie, was the one to pull Wright over. Potter had testified in court that the air freshener was a minor violation and that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officers had mostly stopped pulling people over for expired plates because the pandemic made it difficult for car owners to get new tags, the Times reported.
Potter tried to stop Wright, and she appeared to have believed she had pulled her Taser from its holster. Body camera footage shows Potter yelling “I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” But instead of the Taser, she pulled her gun and shot Wright.
Wright’s death at the hands of police sparked a week of protests in the city, The New York Times reported.
On April 13, Potter and Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon both resigned. The next day, Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter.
But Wright’s family and community members called for more serious charges. At one point, activists protested outside the home of the county prosecutor, demanding that Potter be charged with murder.
In May, the case was taken over by the state’s Attorney General Keith Ellison. In September, Potter was charged with first-degree manslaughter, the AP reported.
Potter’s trial began Nov. 30 with jury selection. Opening statements and testimony started on Dec. 8.
Some of the witnesses included other officers, a psychologist, Wright’s parents and friends of Potter, the Times reported.
Potter took the stand in her own defense and said that she “didn’t want to hurt anybody” the day she killed Wright. She pulled what she had thought was her Taser after she said she saw fear in the face of her fellow officer. She testified she was “sorry it happened,” the AP reported.
Potter said much of what occurred during the shooting and the period after were missing from her memory.
She said she remembered yelling “Taser” repeatedly, being loaded into an ambulance and being taken to a police station.
The 26-year-veteran testified that it was the only time she had fired her gun, The New York Times reported. She also testified that it was the first time she had attempted to use her Taser in the field.
The Taser was larger than her service weapon. It was also colored a bright yellow compared to the black coloring of the handgun, the Times reported.
Potter was convicted of both counts of manslaughter on Dec. 23 and was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs.
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