A jury in December convicted 49-year-old Potter on counts of first- and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the deadly incident, which unfolded during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis part of Brooklyn Center.
On Friday, February 18, she was imprisoned for two years, which is far less than the standard of about seven years for manslaughter, after a judge said leniency was warranted because the officer had meant to fire her Taser and not her gun.
She’ll be required to serve for 16 months and will be eligible for release any time after with good behavior
The remaining time would be served on supervised release. Potter was credited for already serving 58 days.
“To those who disagree and feel a longer prison sentence is appropriate, as difficult as it may be, please try to empathize with Ms. Potter’s situation,” Judge Regina Chu said after handing down the sentence, adding that Wright’s life “mattered.”
Potter pulled over 20-year-old Wright the night of April 11, 2021 for expired plates, only to quickly realize he also had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant out for his arrest.
Officers attempted to take him into custody, but he escaped their grasp and managed to get back into the driver’s seat of his vehicle. Footage from Potter’s bodycam then shows the officer yelling “Taser, Taser” before she shot Wright, who was Black, with her firearm.
Wright was able to drive only a short distance before crashing nearby. He was pronounced dead on the scene, while his girlfriend, who was in the passenger seat at the time, was injured.
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu said a suspect without criminal history, like Potter, would typically get a sentence between just more than six years to about 8 1/2 years in prison, with the presumptive sentence being just over seven years.
“Of all the jobs in public service, police officers have the most difficult one. They must make snap decisions under tense evolving and ever-changing circumstances. They risk their lives every single day in public service. Officer Potter made a mistake that ended tragically,” Chu said, pausing to maintain her composure.
“She never intended to hurt anyone. Her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines”
The jury deliberated for about four days before finding Potter guilty on Dec. 23.
The Wright family (pictured below) earlier during the sentencing hearing had asked that Chu impose the maximum amount of prison time for Potter.
“I ask that Kim Potter be held accountable and that the maximum sentence be applied, which is incomparable to the life sentence we have been given, because of her negligence,” Arbuey Wright, Daunte’s father, said. “My son Daunte’s life was taken away, way too soon, and he’s never coming back, and it has affected my whole family.”
His mother, Katie Wright, in a fiery speech before the court said she would never forgive Potter.
“She referred to Daunte over and over again as the driver, as if killing him wasn’t enough to dehumanize him,” she said. “She never once said his name, and for that, I’ll never be able to forgive you. And I’ll never be able to forgive you for what you’ve stolen from us.”
Katie Wright said she wanted to see more from Potter during the trial.
“My heart wanted to see remorse, sadness in her eyes,” she said. “I wanted to see her mouth the words ‘I’m sorry,’ but she sat there with such entitlement and privilege. She never once looked at us.”
Later in the hearing, Potter apologized, saying she didn’t believe she “had a right” to look at the family.
“Katie, I understand a mother’s love, and I am sorry I broke your heart,” Potter said. “My heart is broken for all of you.”