Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who claimed she mistook her firearm for her taser when she fatally shot Daunte Wright as he attempted to flee arrest in April 2021, was sentenced on Friday to two years in prison after having been found guilty on charges of first and second-degree manslaughter.
Potter, 49, had been facing a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine on the first-degree manslaughter charge; however, Hennepin County District Court Judge Regina Chu instead gave Potter a lesser sentence than recommended by state sentencing guidelines, calling the case “one of the saddest cases I’ve had on my 20 years on the bench.”
“This is a cop who made a tragic mistake,” Chu said. “She drew her firearm thinking it was a taser and ended up killing a young man.”
One juror spoke anonymously to local media about the verdict said they did not believe that Potter knowingly shot Wright on purpose.
“We felt like she was a good person, we felt she made a mistake, and that a mistake does not absolve you from the fact she did commit a crime,” the juror said.
Reports indicate that Minnesota offenders typically serve only two-thirds of their prison sentence, followed by serving the remaining one-third on supervised release.
Wright had been pulled over for a routine traffic stop on April 11 in Brooklyn Center when police discovered that he had an arrest warrant on firearms charges; according to released bodycam footage, while he was being placed under arrest, Wright became combative, actively resisted arrest, and attempted to enter his vehicle to flee the scene.
At that time, Kim Potter, 48, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, threatened to tase Wright but drew her firearm instead and shot the suspect in the chest, fatally wounding him.
At the time of Wright’s death, multiple protests broke out against police brutality.
Wright had an extensive criminal past, including misdemeanor convictions for selling drugs and disorderly conduct, and serious allegations put forth by two civil suits filed against Wright’s estate; the first alleges that he shot Caleb Livingston, 16, in head in May 2019 – leaving the victim in a “vegetative state” – and the second alleges Wright and another individual shot a former classmate, Joshua Hodges, in the leg while carjacking him.
In addition, Wright had been charged with aggravated robbery after he allegedly choked a woman at gunpoint while demanding her rent money from her.
Katie Wright, Daunte Wright’s mother spoke at the sentencing, saying Potter had “failed Daunte, our family and our community. I will never be able to forgive you for what you’ve stolen from us. My life and my world will never, ever, be the same.”
Potter also spoke at her sentencing, expressing remorse to Wright’s mother and the rest of his family over his death.
“Katie, I understand a mother’s love, and I am sorry I broke your heart,” she said. “My heart is broken for all of you.”