Kim Potter ― a former Minnesota police officer who was found guilty of manslaughter for the killing of Daunte Wright, an unarmed 20-year-old Black man ― was sentenced Friday to 24 months.
Potter will serve just 16 months in prison and be released on supervised release for the remainder of her sentence.
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu issued the sentence following victim impact statements from Wright’s family, including his mother, Katie Wright, who gave emotional testimony to the court asking that Potter receive a long sentence.
“I’m asking you to hold the defendant to the highest accountability,” Katie Wright told Chu during Friday’s sentencing.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s office filed a motion earlier this week asking that Potter be sentenced to just over seven years in prison. Potter’s attorneys had asked the court for a far lesser sentence of probation.
Potter, who is white, fatally shot Wright in April 2021 and was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter in December. Jurors were shown body camera video of the encounter, where Wright was arrested during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, after police found he had an outstanding warrant.
In the video, Potter, who was training another officer that day, can be heard yelling “Taser, Taser, Taser!” at Wright, before pulling out a gun and firing at him at close range.
In her own statement during Friday’s sentencing, Potter spoke directly to Wright’s family about the harm she has caused.
“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,” Potter said through sobs. “I am sorry I broke your hearts. … My heart is broken for all of you.”
Before announcing the sentence, Chu said this case was “one of the saddest cases I’ve had in my 20 years on the bench.”
Chu said she handed down a lesser sentence in part because Potter did not mean to shoot Wright with her gun.
“Here everybody agrees, and the evidence is undisputed, that officer Potter never intended to use her firearm,” Chu said.
Potter testified at her trial and maintained that she meant to use her Taser but mistakenly pulled out her gun instead. During a cross-examination, prosecutors argued that Potter was an experienced officer who should have known the difference in weight between a Taser and a gun.
“So you went out on the street with a Taser, not knowing what that Taser did?” prosecutor Erin Eldridge asked Potter during the trial.
“I would assume that on the day I worked, I would know,” Potter responded. “But I don’t know, it’s been months now.”
During Friday’s sentencing, Katie Wright spoke through tears about her son’s killing.
“Your honor, I hope the defendant is listening as I speak loud and clear today,” Wright said before Potter’s sentencing. “And yes, I refer to her as defendant, because I will not give her the respect of calling her by her name. She referred to Daunte over and over again as the driver. As if killing him wasn’t enough to dehumanize him, she never once said his name. And for that, I’ll never be able to forgive you. And I’ll never be able to forgive you for what you’ve stolen from us.”
“She didn’t even try to save him,” Wright added.