Former Officer Kim Potter Found Guilty in Daunte Wright’s Death

In Summary

The shooting happened during the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, further intensifying tensions between residents and police in Minnesota. 

A jury has found former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter guilty of first-degree manslaughter and guilty of second-degree manslaughter.  

Charges 

Potter was facing charges related to the death of 20-year-old Black man Daunte Wright, who she fatally shot in April. She maintains she meant to grab her Taser instead of her gun after Wright attempted to get back into his car after being pulled over.  

The Jury  

According to the Associated Press, nine out of the 12 jurors selected for the trial were white. One juror identified as Black and two identified as Asian. Both alternates were also white and the jury was evenly split between men and women.  

RELATED: Majority White Jury Selected for Kim Potter’s Manslaughter Trial  

While the racial makeup was roughly in line with the demographics of Hennepin County, the jury was less diverse than the one that convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. The jury in that trial was split evenly with six white jurors and six jurors identifying as a person of color.  

Potter’s Testimony 

Potter, a 26-year police veteran, testified about her experience as a training officer and what led up to the moments when she shot Wright.  

RELATED: Kim Potter Cries on the Stand Testifying About Shooting Daunte Wright  

When asked about what she remembers about the day of the incident, Potter said her partner, Anthony Luckey, who she was training, noticed an incorrect blinker being used and an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. She said if she was patrolling alone that day, she probably wouldn’t have pulled the car over.   

After confirming the registration was expired and finding the warrant for Wright, they pulled him over, she testified. Luckey told Potter there was an “obvious smell” of marijuana in the car before asking Wright to get out of the car several times before he complied. The officers attempted to place Wright under arrest, as Potter said there was a warrant out for his arrest.   

RELATED: Kim Potter Trial: Sergeant Never Heard of Cop Drawing Gun Instead of Taser 

 “It just went chaotic,” Potter said, describing the moments after.   

She testified that Wright was attempting to get back into the car as the officers began to struggle with him. Getting emotional on the stand, she said the officers had a “look of fear.”  

Potter told prosecutors that Wright did not have a weapon, nor did he make any threats to the officers. “We were trying to keep him from driving away. It was chaotic,” she said as she began to shake on the stand. “And then I remember yelling Taser, Taser, Taser and nothing happened and then he told me I shot him,” she said, before breaking down into tears.   

Remembering Daunte Wright 

Wright’s family characterized him as a jokester and loving father who enjoyed basketball, food and helping to raise his younger sisters. His father, Arbuey Wright, testified as a spark of life witness. “We had a close relationship,” Arbuey Wright said. “He was me and my wife’s first child. I miss him a lot. Every day.”  

RELATED: Kim Potter Trial: Daunte Wright’s Dad Describes Close Relationship to Son 

Katie Bryant, Daunte’s mother, and Alayna Albrecht-Payton, Daunte’s girlfriend, who was in the car with him during the time of the shooting, also testified in the trial.  

Daunte Wright leaves behind a two-year-old son, Daunte Wright Jr. 

RELATED: Kim Potter Trial: Daunte Wright’s Mother Recalls Finding Out He Died  

Conviction 

Her conviction of the charges can land her a prison sentence of up to seven years. Prior to the trial, prosecutors said they would seek a longer sentence.  

After the verdict was read, Potter’s attorneys asked that she not be incarcerated until her sentencing, citing the Christmas holiday. Potter’s defense team also said her remorse for the shooting is “overwhelming” and that she is not a danger to the public.

The judge denied the request from the defense and ordered Potter to be sent to jail without bail, saying that she could not treat Potter differently from others.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 18, 2022.

Reaction

Reaction to the verdict quickly began circulating with many calling it justice and accountability.

Ben Crump, Tony Romanucci and Jeff Storms, the attorneys representing Wright’s family released the following statement on Twitter:

“The family of Daunte Wright is relieved that the justice system has provided some measure of accountability for the senseless death of their son, brother, father and friend. From the unnecessary and overreaching tragic traffic stop to the shooting that took his life, that day will remain a traumatic one for this family and yet another example for America of why we desperately need change in policing training and protocols. If we are ever going to restore the confidence of Black and marginalized Americans in law enforcement, we need to have accountability and a commitment to listening and to creating meaningful change. We must now turn our attention to ensuring that Kim Potter receives the strongest and most just sentence possible. It is also imperative that we focus on the conduct of Brooklyn Center and pinpoint its systemic failures that contributed to Daunte’s unlawful death.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Wright’s family held a press conference after the verdict was announced. While Ellison said accountability was reached, he said there is no justice because Daunte Wright cannot be brought back to life.

This is a developing story. 

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