Kim Potter trial: ex-officer convicted of two counts of manslaughter for shooting Daunte Wright’s death

Potter, who is white, showed no emotion when reading the verdicts and was ordered to be held without bail. One of his lawyers rested his head on his hands at the defense table.

Wright’s parents Arbuey Wright and Katie Bryant heaved sighs and cries, according to a report from the pool.

“The moment we heard guilty of manslaughter, an emotion, every emotion you can imagine going through your body. I kind of screamed because it was built in anticipation,” he said. Bryant told reporters later.

Bryant told CNN Thursday night: “We still don’t have Daunte at home. And it’s just a step forward in the bigger problem with the police and I hope he doesn’t have to be there anymore. to have Daunte. More Daunte and so many other names that we sing in our streets. “

Protesters – some carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs and portraits of Wright – cheered and cheered outside the courtroom. A marching band played.

The jury deliberated for four days

Jurors have deliberated for about 27 hours since Monday, when, in closing arguments, a prosecutor described Potter’s actions as a tragic error born of recklessness or negligence and the defense called the shooting an honest error and no crime.

The maximum penalty for first degree manslaughter based on the reckless use / handling of a firearm is 15 years in prison. Since Potter, 49, has no criminal history, the Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of around 6 to 8.5 years in prison.

Judge Regina Chu thanked the jury, who, midway through the deliberations, appeared to be struggling to reach consensus.

“I am so proud of you. You should be proud of yourself. Without civic-minded citizens like you, our justice system could not function. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifices.”

A female juror cried, according to the pool report. Another juror comforted her as she trembled and sobbed.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told reporters he was saddened “there will be an empty chair at the Wright family’s dinner over the holidays.”

“We have a certain degree of responsibility for Daunte’s death. Responsibility is not justice,” he said. “Justice is beyond the scope we have in this life for Daunte, but accountability is an important, critical and necessary step on the path to justice for all of us.”

Here's what we know about Kim Potter, the officer who shot Daunte Wright

Law enforcement officers are held in “high regard,” but will also be held to “high standards,” Ellison said.

About Potter, he said, “She was remorseful. I mean what a decent person wouldn’t be broken and sad if she was involved in something like this … I only wish the best for her and her family. . “

Chu rejected a request by Potter’s defense attorneys to allow her to return home before sentencing, citing her deep roots in the community.

“I can’t treat this case any differently from others,” Chu said.

The former Brooklyn Center cop was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom. Her husband, Jeff, a former law enforcement officer, was heard shouting, “I love you, Kim,” according to a report from the pool.

“I love you back,” she said.

She was transferred to the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Shakopee, about 25 miles southwest of Minneapolis, according to the state Department of Corrections. The sentence was set for February 18.

Potter yelled “Taser” before shooting Wright.

Wright’s April 11 shooting – in the trial in which former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd – sparked days of unrest in the Brooklyn Center suburb after a tumultuous year of protests by coast to coast on how the police treat people of color. Chauvin was convicted in the same courtroom as Potter.
Wright, 20, was arrested by police for an expired label and illegal air freshener. During the shutdown, officers learned he had a warrant pending and attempted to arrest him, but Wright walked away and attempted to start.
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As the video of the incident shows, Potter yelled “Taser” several times before shooting Wright with his handgun. Then she said, “Holy shit! I just shot her!” She added, “I grabbed the wrong f ** king gun, and I shot him.” She resigned from the department a few days later.

The case centered on the jury’s interpretation of Potter’s fatal error – whether, as the prosecution argued, because of his recklessness and negligence, or whether it was of an unfortunate accident that does not reach the level of a crime, as the defense argued.

More than 30 witnesses, including Potter herself, testified during the eight-day trial testimony. An emotional Potter testified for hours and burst into tears several times as he described the “chaotic” moments that led to the shooting.

“I was very distraught. I just shot someone. I’m sorry that happened,” she said, crying in court. “I am really sorry.”

In cross-examination, Potter said Wright did not threaten the police before shooting. She said she didn’t remember much of what happened after the shooting, but admitted that she did not help treat Wright’s injuries or monitor her fellow officers.

Potter was far from a rogue officer. She testified that prior to that day she had never deployed her Taser or fired a handgun while on duty and had never had a complaint against her.

The former officer described the moments before the shooting as “chaotic” and recalled the “look of fear” of another officer as he struggled with Wright.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” she yelled at one point.

Wright’s mother and father testified

In her final argument, Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge said Potter made a series of bad choices when stopping traffic which led to the fatal confusion.

“Accidents can still be crimes if they happen due to recklessness or culpable negligence,” the prosecutor said. “This is not a defense against the crimes charged.”

Wright’s mother and father testified for the prosecution.

University of South Carolina Law School Associate Professor Seth Stoughton testified for the state, calling Potter’s actions “excessive and inappropriate.”

Ex-police officer Kim Potter cries, says she's

“The use of lethal force was not appropriate, and the evidence suggests that a reasonable officer in Officer Potter’s position could not have believed that this was proportionate to the threat at the time,” Stoughton said.

The defense called the murder an unfortunate accident that should not be considered a felony.

“Everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect,” attorney Earl Gray said. “This lady made a mistake and a mistake is not a crime.”

He also argued that Potter was within his rights to use deadly force to protect a fellow officer, who was looking in the vehicle when Wright attempted to pull away.

“Even though she didn’t know she was using it, she had the right to, and that’s what the law is,” he said.

A Taser would have been effective in neutralizing Wright, the first defense witness said. Still, lethal force was justified if an officer was partially inside a vehicle as a suspect attempted to pull away, said Stephen Ijames, a law enforcement expert and former chief of the police. Missouri Police Assistant.

Potter’s former boss testified that he concluded there was “no violation … of policy, procedure, law,” after examining the body camera and others. videos after the shooting.

The jury returned their verdict on first-degree manslaughter at 11:40 a.m. (12:40 p.m. ET) Thursday, according to Chu. Jurors agreed on the lesser charge on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., she said. Conviction of a police officer is rare.

Correction: An earlier version of this story was in error on the day the verdict on the lowest charge was rendered. Jurors agreed on Tuesday.

CNN’s Omar Jimenez, Josh Campbell, Jason Hanna, Eric Levenson, Ashley Killough, Carma Hassan, Brad Parks and Anna-Maja Rappard contributed to this report.

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