Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter is set to be released from prison this upcoming Monday, sixteen months after she was found guilty of manslaughter for a 2021 accidental killing of Daunte Wright. Wright had previously robbed a woman at gunpoint and was wanted on outstanding charges for the crime when he was pulled over and fled from a traffic stop.
Wright’s killing, and the subsequent press coverage the killing received as a result of it occurring just miles away from where Derek Chauvin was on trial for the 2020 Minneapolis death of George Floyd that set off months or looting and rioting, was largely seen by experts as justified. In fact, some legal experts weighed in and said Potter would have been justified to use deadly force.
Instead, she was found guilty of accidentally discharging her firearm after intending to subdue the uncooperative Wright with a taser after he wriggled out of police restraints and attempted to flee in his vehicle.
Fox News described the situation leading to Potter’s eventual guilty verdict, writing:
The deadly confrontation unfolded April 11, 2021, after Wright, 20, was pulled over for expired license tags in Brooklyn Center — about 15 miles from where George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis in 2020.
It turned out Wright had an open arrest warrant for failure to appear on a weapons charge.
When Potter tried to arrest him, she believed he was attempting to flee and mistakenly drew her firearm instead of her stun gun. Potter can be seen in body camera footage shouting, “I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” before firing a single round. “I grabbed the wrong f—ing gun,” she can be heard saying before collapsing on the curb.
Given the political climate and her proximity to the Derek Chauvin case, and despite the seemingly clear-cut evidence to exonerate her, Potter was found guilty of both first- and second-degree manslaughter.
Amazingly, the judge presiding over the case, Judge Regina Chu, handed down a sentence much lower than state recommendations for the verdicts she’d received from jury members.
“She never intended to hurt anyone. Her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines,” the judge explained, becoming emotionally visible at the prospect of perhaps having to send an arguably innocent woman to prison. She added that Potter was clearly remorseful.
Potter, in fact, even apologized to Wright’s surviving family members about taking him away from them. She was fully justified in using lethal force to protect both herself and others in the vicinity from an unpredictable and dangerous threat, and yet she clearly showed that not all police are out for blood. She wanted to serve and protect her community, not take anyone out.
“To the family of Daunte Wright, I am so sorry that I brought the death of your son, father, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew,” she told them through tears, before addressing the slain man’s mother,” Potter said directly to the family.
Potter will next serve 8 months of supervised release.
Featured image: Minnesota Department of Corrections
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