Former police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison for the accidental shooting death of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
The Background: Wright was pulled over in April for expired plate tags and hanging objects from his rearview mirror. He became noncompliant when Potter and another officer attempted to arrest him for an unrelated outstanding warrant. He got back into his car and attempted to drive off when Potter fatally shot him. According to Potter, she intended to use her Taser but mistakenly pulled her gun instead.
The Details: Potter was convicted of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter in December, but she was only convicted on the more serious first-degree charge. She apologized to Wright’s family during the hearing, “Katie, I understand a mother’s love, and I am sorry I broke your heart. My heart is broken for all of you.” Potter is credited for 58 days served and will only serve another one year and four months of her sentence if she behaves in prison. The rest of the time would qualify for supervised release.
What They’re Saying: Judge Regina Chu handed down the sentence saying, “To those who disagree and feel a longer prison sentence is appropriate, as difficult as it may be, please try to empathize with Ms. Potter’s situation.” She added, “Officer Potter made a mistake that ended tragically. She never intended to hurt anyone. Her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison encouraged people to accept the judge’s decision even if they’re disappointed. “I don’t ask you to agree with her decision, which takes nothing away from the truth of the jury’s verdict,” he said. “I know it is hurtful to loved ones of Daunte Wright. I ask that we remember the beauty of Daunte Wright, to keep his memory in our hearts, and to know that no number of years in prison could ever capture the wonder of this young man’s life.”
Wright’s father, Arbuey Wright, said he felt “cheated. I walk out of this courthouse feeling like people are laughing at us because this lady got a slap on the wrist and we still every night sitting around crying, waiting on my son to come home. I’m upset.” Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, added, “Today, the justice system murdered him all over again.”