A judge on Friday sentenced former Minneapolis-area police officer Kim Potter to two years in prison for killing motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop that turned into an arrest last April.
Potter, a former officer on the force in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, is expected to serve a little more than half of the sentence in prison and the rest under supervised release. She was given 58 days credit for time already served, which is subtracted from the sentence.
Potter was convicted in December on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter in Wright’s death. She argued at trial that she intended to subdue Wright with a stun gun, but mistakenly pulled her firearm during the arrest.
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu called Potter’s one of the saddest cases she’s seen.
“Kimberly Potter did not abuse her position of authority. It is undisputed that officer Potter was in the line of duty, and doing her job in attempting to lawfully arrest Daunte Wright on the warrant when she drew her taser. There is no question that Ms. Potter is extremely resourceful,” Chu said during the sentencing.
“Kimberly Potter does not present a danger of future crimes.”
The judge’s ruling falls toward the low end of the sentencing guidelines. Potter could have faced 15 years in prison on the first-degree charge alone.
Potter apologized to Wright’s family during Friday’s hearing.
“To the family of Daunte Wright, I am so sorry that I brought the death of your son, father, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew and the rest of your family, to your home,” she told the court, according to CNN.
Aubrey Wright and Katie Wright speak during the funeral for their son Daunte Wright at Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis, Minn., on April 22, 2021. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
A number of Wright’s family members addressed the court ahead of Chu’s ruling.
“[Potter] 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,” father Arbuey Wright said, according to CNN. “Nothing will ever be the same.”
“Kim Potter took my son’s best friend away from him and things haven’t been the same since. I am now a single mother, not by choice, by force,” Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Wright’s child, said in her impact statement.
At the hearing, defense attorney Paul Engh read aloud from letters voicing support for Potter.
“I had never witnessed officer Potter mistreat, disrespect or use force on any individual. She was nothing but professional, helpful and caring,” wrote an emergency medical technician, he said.
Potter and an officer trainee pulled Wright over for an expired registration on his vehicle and an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror. The other officer, Anthony Luckey, attempted to arrest Wright on an outstanding firearms warrant, at which point Wright attempted to re-enter his vehicle. Potter yelled “Taser, Taser, Taser,” and shot Wright with her firearm.
Potter took the stand in her own defense and said she mistakenly grabbed the firearm rather than her stun gun.
Prosecutors, however, argued that her mistake was criminal.
Wright’s family said after her conviction in December that they were satisfied with the outcome.
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