Kim Potter sentencing: Reside trial updates

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kim Potter, the previous suburban Minneapolis police officer who stated she confused her handgun for her Taser when she fatally shot Daunte Wright, was sentenced Friday to 2 years in jail. Wright’s household denounced the sentence as too lenient and accused the choose of giving extra consideration to the white officer than the Black sufferer.

Potter was convicted in December of first- and second-degree manslaughter within the April 11 killing of Wright, a 20-year-old Black motorist. She was sentenced solely on the extra severe cost in accordance with state regulation.

Wright’s mom, Katie Wright, stated after the sentencing that Potter “murdered my son,” including: “Immediately the justice system murdered him over again.” She additionally accused the choose of being taken in by “white lady tears” after Potter cried throughout her pre-sentencing assertion.

Talking earlier than the sentence was imposed, a tearful Wright stated she may by no means forgive Potter and that she would seek advice from her solely as “the defendant” as a result of Potter solely referred to her son as “the motive force” at trial.

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“She by no means as soon as stated his title. And for that I’ll by no means be capable of forgive you. And I’ll by no means be capable of forgive you for what you’ve stolen from us,” stated Wright, who additionally typically makes use of the final title Bryant.

“Daunte Demetrius Wright, I’ll proceed to battle in your title till driving whereas Black is not a demise sentence,” she stated.

Potter supplied an apology to Wright’s household, then spoke on to his mom: “Katie, I perceive a mom’s love. I’m sorry I broke your coronary heart … my coronary heart is damaged and devastated for all of you.”

The choose, who imposed a sentence under state pointers, known as it “one of many saddest circumstances I’ve had on my 20 years on the bench.” Decide Regina Chu stated she acquired “a whole bunch and a whole bunch” of letters in help of Potter. “On the one hand, a younger man was killed and on the opposite, a revered 26-year veteran police officer made a tragic error by pulling her handgun as a substitute of her Taser.”

Chu stated the lesser sentence was warranted as a result of Potter was “within the line of obligation and doing her job in making an attempt to lawfully arrest Daunte Wright,” and Potter was making an attempt to guard one other officer who may have been dragged and critically injured if Wright drove away.

The choose stated Potter will serve the usual two-thirds of her sentence, or 16 months in jail, with the remaining on parole. She has earned credit score for 58 days that she has been within the state’s girls’s jail in Shakopee because the responsible verdict.

Wright’s mom later joined a small group of protesters chanting and shouting outdoors a downtown constructing the place they believed the choose lived.

Wright was killed after Brooklyn Heart officers pulled him over for having expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. Civil rights advocates complain that legal guidelines towards hanging objects from rearview mirrors have been used as a pretext for stopping Black motorists.

The capturing, which occurred as Derek Chauvin was on trial in Minneapolis on homicide costs in George Floyd’s killing, sparked a number of days of demonstrations outdoors the Brooklyn Heart police station marked by tear fuel and clashes between protesters and police.

Potter and Chauvin had been convicted in the identical courtroom.

Wright household lawyer Ben Crump stated the household was shocked by the sentence, saying they didn’t perceive why such consideration was given to a white officer within the killing of a younger Black man when a Black officer, Mohamed Noor, obtained an extended sentence for the 2017 killing of a white lady, Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

“What we see at present is the authorized system in Black and white.”

However the choose stated the case was not the identical as different high-profile killings by police.

“This isn’t a cop discovered responsible of homicide for utilizing his knee to pin down an individual for 9 1/2 minutes as he gasped for air. This isn’t a cop discovered responsible of manslaughter for deliberately drawing his firearm and capturing throughout his associate and killing an unarmed lady who approached his squad,” stated Chu, referring to Chauvin and Noor. “This can be a cop who made a tragic mistake.”

For somebody with no prison historical past, equivalent to Potter, the state pointers on first-degree manslaughter vary from barely greater than six years to about 8 1/2 years in jail, with the presumptive sentence being simply over seven years.

Prosecutors initially argued that aggravating elements warranted a sentence above the rule of thumb vary, saying Potter abused her authority as an officer and that her actions precipitated a greater-than-normal hazard to others. However on Friday, Prosecutor Matt Frank stated the presumptive sentence was correct.

“His life mattered, and that life was taken,” Frank stated earlier than sentencing. “His title is Daunte Wright. We now have to say his title. He was not only a driver. He was a residing human being. A life.”

Protection lawyer Paul Engh requested for a sentence under the rules, together with probation solely, arguing that Wright was the aggressor. He stated the testimony of different officers on the scene confirmed it was a harmful state of affairs as a result of Wright was making an attempt to drive away and Potter had the best to defend different officers.

Minnesota Legal professional Basic Keith Ellison, whose workplace prosecuted the case, stated he accepts the sentence and urged others to do the identical.

Individuals ought to keep in mind Daunte Wright and “know that no variety of years in jail may ever seize the surprise of this younger man’s life,” Ellison stated in a press release.

However, he stated, the sentence doesn’t take away from “the reality of the jury’s verdict.”

Engh informed the choose that Wright’s demise was “past tragic for everyone concerned.” However, he added: “This was an unintentional crime. It was an accident. It was a mistake.”

Engh stated if Potter had been to obtain probation, she could be keen to fulfill with Wright’s household and to talk to law enforcement officials about Taser mix-ups, as prompt by prosecutors.

Engh additionally held up a field displaying what he stated had been amongst “hundreds” of letters and playing cards of help for Potter.

“Individuals took the time to put in writing her,” Engh stated. “That is unprecedented for a defendant. I dare say nobody on this room has ever seen something like this.”

Proof at Potter’s trial confirmed officers discovered he had an excellent warrant for a weapons possession cost and so they tried to arrest him when he pulled away. Video confirmed Potter shouted a number of occasions that she was going to make use of her Taser on Wright, however she had her gun in her hand and fired one shot into his chest.

Wright’s father and siblings additionally addressed the court docket to talk of their loss.

The mom of Wright’s son, Chyna Whitaker, stated Friday that Wright would by no means have an opportunity to play ball together with his son, or see him go to high school.

“My son shouldn’t should put on a ‘relaxation in peace’ shirt of his dad,” Whitaker stated.


The story been corrected to indicate Potter confronted sentencing for first-degree manslaughter, not first-degree homicide. It has additionally corrected a quote to “white lady tears” as a substitute of “white lady’s tears.”


Webber contributed from Fenton, Michigan. Related Press author Mohamed Ibrahim contributed from Minneapolis.


Discover the AP’s full protection of the Daunte Wright case:

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