Allison Elyse Gualtieri and Clare Hymes, CBS News, December 23, 2021
A Minnesota jury has reached a guilty verdict on both charges in the case of Kim Potter, a White former police officer who fatally shot Black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April.
Potter, 49, was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of 20-year-old Wright, who attempted to flee during the stop. Potter, who resigned from the Brooklyn Center police force after the shooting, maintained that she intended to reach for her Taser instead of her gun.
State guidelines for the more serious charge call for a 7-year sentence. She was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs and was ordered held without bond until sentencing.
The jury CBS Minnesota reported. They returned Thursday afternoon to announce the verdict.after hearing about a week and a half of testimony in the case. Late Tuesday, they asked Judge Regina Chu what they should do if they could not arrive at a verdict. Speaking with the jurors, Chu told them they needed to continue with deliberations with open minds and a willingness to listen to each other’s viewpoints,
Potter gave emotional, saying she “didn’t want to hurt anybody” and that she was “sorry it happened.” But the state argued that mistakenly firing her gun instead of her Taser was not a defense.
“This was no little oopsie. This was not putting a wrong date on a check. This was not entering the wrong password somewhere,” said prosecutor Erin Eldridge, an assistant attorney general, in her“This was a colossal screw-up. A blunder of epic proportions.”
The defense argued that Wright’s attempt to flee officers during the traffic stop was a factor in his death.
“Within seconds, [Wright] all of a sudden breaks away. That’s the cause, ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” said Potter’s attorney Earl Gray. “Did they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she caused this death? No. Daunte Wright caused his own death, unfortunately. But those are the cold, hard facts.”
The April 11 shooting in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, occurred during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of the 2020 murder of George Floyd. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Brooklyn Center saw unrest for days after Wright’s death.
Attorneys for Daunte Wright’s family, Benjamin Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms, released a statement after the verdict was announced.
“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,” they said.
The statement continued: “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.”