In a judicial decision that is now being denounced, former police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to prison for just two years Friday for the 2021 killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
Potter will have to only serve 16 months of the two-year sentence. She faced eight and 1\2 years after being convicted in December of first- and second-degree manslaughter charges.
Judge Regina Chu, in issuing her lenient ruling, said she believed Potter make an innocent mistake by shooting Wright with her gun instead of a Taser saying, “I find the facts and circumstances here justify a downward departure from the guidelines.” Chu said this, along with Potter’s supposedly clean record, guided her decision to give Potter a two year sentence.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision,” Judge Chu said before announcing the sentence. “In making my decision, I look to the purposes of incarceration. There are four: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation. Three of the four would not be served in this case. The evidence is undisputed that officer Potter never intended to use her firearm.”
Judge Chu also tried to distinguish this case from that of George Floyd.
“This case is highly unusual. … This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine-and-a-half minutes as he gasped for air. This is not a cop found guilty of manslaughter for intentionally drawing his firearm and shooting across his partner (a reference to the Minneapolis case of former Black officer Mohamed Noor, who killed a white Australian woman) and killing an unarmed woman who approached approached his squad. This is a cop who made a tragic mistake. ” Chu said.
Judge Chu said she recognized many will disagree with her slap-on-the-wrist sentencing of this convicted cop.
“I recognize there will be those who disagree with the sentence that I granted a significant downward departure does not in any way diminish Daunte Wright’s life,” Chu said. “His life mattered.”
The family of Daunte Wright expressed their displeasure with the verdict outside the courtroom.
Daunte Wright’s father, Arbuey Wright, said after the verdict “I feel cheated…nobody cared enough.”
Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said Potter “murdered my son,” and “Today the justice system murdered him all over again.”
She also said this of Potter “A police officer who was supposed to serve and protect so much took so much away from us … My life and my world will never ever be the same again…Daunte Demetrius Wright, I will continue to fight in your name until driving while Black is no longer a death sentence.”
Family lawyer Ben Crump said of the verdict “What we see today is the legal system in Black and white.”
Officer Kim Potter shot Daunte Wright to death on April, 21, 2021 around 2:00 pm after she said she accidentally pulled her gun–instead of her Taser, during a traffic stop of Wright. The initial reason for pulling Wright over was that he had an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror, a pretext that is often used in the racial profiling of Black drivers.
The justification that Wright had an expired registration tag then became the main police narrative and rationale for the stop. Many point out that this was during a time of DMV disruptions due to COVID. Afterward the police found out Wright had a warrant for failure to appear in court and decided to arrest him setting the stage for Potter’s killing of Wright.
Potter, who was riding with another officer (allegedly, officer Anthony Luckey) testified that if it were up to her she would not have stopped Wright.
Officer Luckey, who initiated the stop was an officer in training.
However, Potter who was the senior officer–and field training officer–having worked as a police officer since 1995 curiously apparently allowed her trainee, Anthony Luckey, to do something, stop Wright, that she testified she would not have done.
Kim Potter never explained why she allegedly allowed officer Luckey to stop Wright to begin with, if she didn’t agree with the stop.
Daunte Wright died because of several troubling decisions officer Kimberly Potter made. Now she will spend less than two years in prison for those dubious decisions that led to Daunte Wright’s death.