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June 26, 2022
Former Minnesota Cop Kimberly Potter Sentenced To 2 Years For Daunte Wright’s Death
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Former Minnesota Cop Kimberly Potter Sentenced To 2 Years For Daunte Wright’s Death

Topline
Former Minnesota police officer Kimberly Potter received a two-year sentence Friday—significantly shorter than the sentence requested by prosecutors—after she was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old whom Potter says she accidentally shot after mistaking her gun for a Taser.

Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter stands with defense attorney Earl Gray.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Key Facts

Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu said Potter will serve the first two-thirds of her sentence—or 16 months—in prison, and will spend the final eight months on supervised release.

Prosecutors had asked Chu to sentence Potter to 86 months in prison for first-degree manslaughter, arguing that term “reflects the seriousness of the loss of [Wright’s]

life,” but Potter’s attorneys
called for a shorter sentence, pointing to her “contrition” and “complete lack of criminal record.”

Potter’s sentence is significantly shorter than both the maximum 15-year sentence for first-degree manslaughter in Minnesota and the roughly seven-year term dictated by the state’s sentencing guidelines, and it’s shorter than the 57-month sentence that a Minneapolis police officer faced for second-degree manslaughter last year.

Chu called the circumstances of Wright’s death “highly unusual”: The judge argued the situation was chaotic and Potter’s use of a firearm wasn’t driven by animosity, and called Potter’s behavior “reckless” but a “tragic mistake.”

Potter apologized to Wright’s family shortly before she was sentenced.

Chief Critic
Wright’s family is “completely stunned” and “deeply disappointed” by Potter’s sentence, their attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement. “The Judge’s comments at sentencing showed a clear absence of compassion for the victim in this tragedy and were devastating to the family,” Crump wrote.

Key Background
A 26-year veteran of the police force in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Potter shot Wright—who was Black—during a traffic stop in April. Prosecutors say police pulled Wright over for driving with an expired registration and attempted to take him into custody for an outstanding arrest warrant, and after Wright tried to pull away from officers, Potter threatened to tase him. Potter then drew her handgun and shouted, “Taser, Taser, Taser,” before shooting him in the chest. Wright was pronounced dead less than 20 minutes later. In a conversation at the scene picked up by police body cameras, Potter said she accidentally drew her gun and remarked, “I’m going to go to prison.” Potter resigned from the police force within days, and she was convicted of manslaughter in December.

Tangent
Wright’s death sparked tense protests in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis. The shooting took place while Derek Chauvin—a former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd—was being tried for murder miles away, reigniting frustrations about police misconduct and racism.

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