Ex-cop Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison Friday for killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright, shooting him when she thought she was firing her Taser.
The 26-year Brooklyn Center police veteran was convicted of manslaughter in December for the fatal shooting, which took place after Wright tried to flee a traffic stop. Video from the scene showed Potter shout that she was going for her Taser, though she’d mistakenly pulled her pistol. She fired a single shot before realizing her mistake.
“This is one of the saddest cases I’ve had on my 20 years on the bench,” Judge Regina Chu said Friday. “This is a cop who made a tragic mistake.”
Chu was quick to differentiate Potter from other officers convicted in recent killings, most notably Derek Chauvin, the officer convicted of murder for kneeling on George Floyd.
“She never intended to hurt anyone,” Chu said of Potter. Had Potter in fact pulled her Taser, Chu said, that use of force would have been legitimate.
The sentence came after an extremely emotional statement from Potter, who wept openly while apologizing to Wright’s family.
“To the family of Daunte Wright, I am so sorry that I brought the death of your son, father, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, to your home.”
She addressed Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, directly.
“Katie, I understand a mother’s love, and I am sorry I broke your heart. My heart is broken for all of you.”
“Earlier when you said that I didn’t look at you during the trial, I don’t believe I had a right to.”
“I am so sorry that I hurt you so badly,” she said, her voice breaking.
“He is not more than one thought away from my heart,” Potter said of Wright. “And I have no right for that, for him to be in my heart.”
“I do pray that one day you can find forgiveness,” she said.
At a press conference following the sentencing, however, Wright’s mother said she found Potter insincere.
“White women’s tears trump justice,” said Katie Wright, who is also white. “I thought my white-woman tears would be enough.”
“I feel cheated, I feel hurt, I feel very upset,” said Daunte Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright.
“This lady got a slap on the wrist and we’re still sitting around every night crying, waiting for my son to come home,” he said.
Wright’s mother had earlier asked Chu for “the highest accountability” in Friday’s sentencing.
“She took our baby boy with a single gunshot through his heart,” Katie Wright told the judge. “And she shattered mine.”
Throughout the emotional statement, Wright’s mother broke into tears.
She referred to Potter only as “the defendant,” because “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,” Katie Wright said, before turning to Potter: “And for that, I’ll never be able to forgive you.”
“She rolled around on the ground crying for herself: ‘I’m going to prison, I shot a boy, call [my union representative],’” Katie Wright said at the sentencing.
“She should have in fact said, ‘Please go save him. How is he doing? Is he OK? Please help him,’” Wright’s mother said, in tears. “She didn’t even try, your honor.”
Wright was killed after Brooklyn Center officers pulled him over for having expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror.
Evidence at Potter’s trial showed officers learned he had an outstanding warrant for a weapons possession charge and they tried to arrest him when he pulled away.
Video showed Potter shouted several times that she was going to tase Wright, but she had her gun in her hand and fired one shot into his chest.
“Oh my God!” Potter said as another cop tried to console her, according to the footage released by police. “Holy s–t! I just shot him!”
She then collapsed to the ground and sobbed, “I’m going to prison.”
With Post wires
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