Kim Potter: Former Minnesota police officer sentenced to 2 years in prison for Daunte Wright’s death — less than prosecutors requested

The sentence is less than the 86 months — or 7 years and 2 months — that prosecutors requested. Potter’s attorneys argued for a lesser sentence, pointing to her lack of a prior criminal history and remorse for Wright’s death.

Potter will be required to serve two-thirds of her sentence in prison, according to state law. With good behavior, she will be eligible for supervised release for the remaining third.

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

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said Potter was a “police officer that took an oath to serve and protect for 26 years.”

“But not on this day. On this day, she did not protect,” she said. “She failed Daunte, our family and our community.”

Potter apologized to Wright’s family, saying, “I am so sorry that I brought the death of your son, father, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, and the rest of your family.”

“I’m sorry I broke your heart,” she added.

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 “culpability” in causing Wright’s death.

“It must always be remembered first and foremost that this case is about the death of Daunte Wright,” the memo said, describing the young father as a “living, breathing human being, who loved, and was loved by his family and friends.”

Potter’s attorneys have 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 wrote, and she planned to do so again at her sentencing Friday.

Under Minnesota law, an offender convicted of two or more charges from the same act is sentenced on their most serious conviction. The maximum penalty for first-degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/handling of a firearm is 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine.

However, under the state’s sentencing guidelines, a judge has discretion to sentence convicted offenders with no prior criminal history, like Potter, to between roughly 6 and 8 and a half years in prison.

Potter has been incarcerated since her conviction at a correctional facility in Shakopee, about 25 miles southwest of Minneapolis, according to records from the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Officer said she mistook her gun for Taser

The shooting occurred as Derek Chauvin stood trial in Minneapolis for murdering George Floyd and prompted days of unrest in Brooklyn Center, reigniting demonstrations in a metropolitan area that has time and again found itself the epicenter of conversations about policing and use of force.
Wright was pulled over by police on April 11 for an expired tag and illegal air freshener, according to authorities. During the stop, police learned Wright had an outstanding warrant, and when Potter and a trainee officer attempted to arrest him, Wright tried to drive off.
Video of the incident shows Potter, a 26-year police veteran, repeatedly yell “Taser” before she shot Wright with her handgun.

“Holy sh*t! I just shot him,” she said, per the video, adding, “I grabbed the wrong f**king gun, and I shot him.”

Potter resigned from the police department days later.

Amir Locke's parents say their son got a gun legally, but they always worried about interactions with police
Potter’s trial focused on her fatal error: Prosecutors attributed it to Potter’s recklessness and negligence, while defense attorneys argued it was an honest, tragic mistake — but not a crime.

“Accidents can still be crimes if they occur because of recklessness or culpable negligence,” Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Erin Eldrige said in her closing argument. “It’s not a defense to the crimes charged.”

Potter’s attorney Earl Gray argued the former officer was within her rights to use deadly force to protect a fellow officer, who was reaching into the vehicle when Wright attempted to drive away.

More than 30 witnesses testified during eight days of testimony, including Potter, who broke down in tears as she described the shooting and the moments leading up to it, telling the court, “I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”

“I was very distraught. I just shot somebody. I’m sorry it happened,” she said after a prosecutor asked about her behavior following the shooting. “I’m so sorry.”

The jury ultimately found Potter guilty after deliberating for about 27 hours.

CNN’s Theresa Waldrop and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.

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