MINNEAPOLIS (CN) — A Minnesota judge sentenced former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter to two years Friday morning for the killing of Black man Daunte Wright.
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu called Potter’s case “one of the saddest cases I’ve had in my 20 years on the bench,” and began tearing up after passing down the sentence. Potter is set to serve 16 months in prison and eight months on supervised release.
Wright’s parents decried the decision in statements after court adjourned.
“Today, the justice system murdered him all over again,” Wright’s mother Katie Bryant said. “White women tears trump justice.”
Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, agreed: “They were so tied up in her feelings, they forgot my son was killed.”
Potter, now 49, shot 20-year-old Wright as he attempted to flee a traffic stop in April 2021, inflaming tensions in a Twin Cities metro already on edge during the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. Potter shouted “Taser, Taser, Taser” just before killing Wright, and has maintained that she pulled her gun by mistake. She was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter in December after over 25 hours of jury deliberations.
Chu denied prosecutors’ requests that she find aggravating factors, and asked that Wright’s supporters empathize with Potter’s situation. The 26-year veteran of the police force has been in solitary confinement in Minnesota’s women’s prison in Shakopee since her conviction. Chu accounted for Potter’s 58 days of time served in her sentence.
The judge contrasted the case with the murder convictions of Chauvin and Mohamed Noor, former Minneapolis police officers.
“This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine and a half minutes as he was gasping for air,” she said. “This is a cop who made a tragic mistake.”
In a statement issued after the hearing, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asked that Minnesotans accept Chu’s decision, and stressed that the sentence “takes nothing away from the truth of the jury’s verdict. I know it is hurtful to loved ones of Daunte Wright. I ask that we remember the beauty of Daunte Wright, to keep his memory in our hearts, and to know that no number of years in prison could ever capture the wonder of this young man’s life.”
“There is no cause for celebration: no one has won,” he continued. “We have all lost, none more than Daunte Wright and the people who love him.”
Wright’s parents and the mother of his child spoke bitterly Friday morning about Wright’s killing at the sentencing hearing.
“The defendant left us with memories and a picture. I have to grieve in public. The whole world sees my crying face,” Bryant said.
Rather than render aid, “she rolled around on the ground crying for herself,” Bryant said of Potter. “‘I shot a boy. I’m going to prison. Call Chuck’ – Her union rep.”
Wright’s father cast aspersions on Potter’s Taser claim and mourned the father his grandson Daunte Wright Jr. would not have. Chyna Whitaker, Daunte Jr.’s mother, said that she is now beset by extreme anxiety whenever police pull her over, and that her son, now 2, was missing out on time spent with his father.
“How will my son learn to trust police after what happened to his dad?” she asked. “I don’t want my son to grow up hating police or being afraid of them.”
Prosecutors asked Chu to give Potter the presumptive sentence in a new filing on Tuesday. State sentencing guidelines place the range for first-degree manslaughter with no criminal history between 6 and 8 1/2 years, with a presumptive sentence just over 7 years.