Former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter was convicted of manslaughter last week for accidentally killing Daunte Wright during an April traffic stop.
The 26-year veteran now faces over a decade in prison for shooting and killing Wright with her sidearm, which she mistook for her Taser during the tense incident.
“Everybody makes mistakes, this lady here made a mistake, and my gosh, a mistake is not a crime,” defense attorney Earl Gray said during his closing statement. “It just isn’t in our freedom-loving country, that we’re going to put you in jail for a mistake you made.”
The 12-person jury didn’t agree. After four days of deliberation, they convicted Potter of first- and second-degree manslaughter.
Wright’s aunt called the conviction “bittersweet” in an interview with NPR.
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“It’s bittersweet still, you know, because Daunte is not here and tomorrow is Christmas,” she said. “Very emotional, very emotional. Happy that, you know, there were guilty charges. But it’s very, very emotional because, again, he’s not here.”
The viral incident took place on April 11 when Potter and a rookie cop pulled over Wright for having expired license tabs and a dangling air freshener on his rearview mirror.
Wright was not armed, but he did have an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on a weapons charge. When Potter and her partner tried to arrest him, he pushed them away and got back into his car.
Potter drew her sidearm, but based on what she said as recorded by her body camera, she clearly believed she was holding a Taser.
“I’m going to Tase you,” Potter shouted. Five seconds later, she yelled, “Taser! Taser! Taser!” and she shot Wright once in the side.
As she collapsed to the ground with her head in her hands, she screamed, “I grabbed the wrong f***ing gun. I shot him. Oh my God! Oh my God! I’m gonna go to prison!”
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Prosecutors did not dispute that Potter shot Wright by accident, but they said she still deserves to go to jail for “a colossal screw-up, a blunder of epic proportions.”
Others who have voiced support for the verdict believe Potter acted out of racial bias.
Attorney Benjamin Crump told NPR that implicit bias training and conflict resolution training at police departments will help prevent future police shootings of unarmed Black men.
Given that Potter meant to Tase Wright, not shoot him, it’s unclear how such training would have prevented this incident.
First-degree manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, but Minnesota state sentencing guidelines call for about seven, according to local outlet KARE. Prosecutors have said they plan to urge the judge to go above seven years while the defense will ask for zero prison time.
I totally agree with Davis. The issue here is not racial but the trail was.
Justice, Minnesota style. The biggest mistakes seem to come from there, and somehow, race (or ethnicity) seems to be a large part of it. Perhaps that can be blamed on the nature of the people living there, including Keith Ellison who would have had to sign off on the prosecution.
I think about the successful prosecution of Derek Chauvin, and I wonder why people don’t take the other factors into account, such as the methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system. He was found guilty anyway, and the judge went outside the sentencing guidelines to give him extra time because he was a cop. That was a mitigating circumstance for the additional time, but it was blind to the drugs being the culprit instead.
And Mohamad Noor was their first Somali police officer. He shot a woman who had called to report a possible assault. He did not have a reason to shoot, as she never presented herself as a threat, but he did it anyway, and now he has successfully appealed his sentence. He could walk free any day.
And, what of the news media? There was not one story that DIDN’T mention that the “victim” was black and the officer was white. This story was presented to the people as a racial matter and left criminal complaints out of the narrative.
I like the idea of having a taser, but let’s face it, they should not be relied on to stop a threat. If there is a chance you can communicate with a suspect, you might be able to deploy one, but once communication is broken, a real gun must be used. The officer is to be trained to use a weapon as fast as possible, and that is the sidearm they carry, The taser should be an afterthought, for when there is time to think of an alternate solution. That opportunity never presented itself in this case.
We saw Kyle Rittenhouse labeled a “White Supremacist.” That was nonsense, but the news hammered that thought into every story as if it was an established fact. It never was.
Holding a trial in a “charged” arena is not fair to the defendant. Justice can’t be done. And we can’t have separate rules for justice based on race or religion. We can’t allow news media to declare who is right, and who is wrong, and what their penalty should be. The courtroom jury should be who decides, not the Court of World Opinion, and a new trial, expensive as it might be, should be held whenever there is a possibility a jury was biased based on news reports.
I blame Obama. He took a group of like-minded people and put them together to outnumber the original people who lived in Minnesota. He created an enclave for them, instead of spreading them evenly to assimilate into American civilization and society. I used to wonder if he knew what he was doing, but I don’t wonder about it anymore. Now I know he did, for sure.
As well she should be by the letter of the law.
The real issue is whether or not they give her a deservedly lenient sentence or not.
She made a terrible, TERRIBLE mistake that can not be taken back and the verdict is just as presented.
Since *they* have already given an UN-deservedly light sentence to one of her fellow officers in the case of DELIBERATELY killing an un-armed witness in a bathrobe – the bar should be quite low when this officer’s sentencing comes ’round in February.
Of course she is white and the one who got-over was a Somali immigrant.
So, there’s that.
Another entitlement black vindicated for bad behavior. If he hadn’t acted-out like a typical street punk and an a–hole by resisting lawful authority, this incident would never turned out the way it did. When one acts out badly, one should expect there will be consequences. Unfortunately, for him, things went really bad, but he has no one to blame but himself. The officer gave plenty of clear commands to stop resisting and to comply, but, no, he chose to buy the ticket and ride the ride. More taser training MIGHT be required within that PD, however, no one really knows how much training the actually department provided. There could have been more than ample training, however, the officer was probably focused solely on the situation about to go south very quickly and having to deal with someone who was likely physically superior to her. Sometimes stress can be overwhelming and tunnel vision comes into play. Yeah, she screwed up big time, but where in the hell is the INTENT OR MALACE on her part? Absolutely NONE. All of you armchair quarterbacks out there that have rushed to judgement on this matter better hope and pray that if you ever cause a fatality while operating your motor vehicle in an ACCIDENT, then expect to serve many, many years in prison. I guess the likes of BLM and Antifa when burning our cities and killing people, that they get free passes like what happened in Seattle and Portland not too long ago.
3-5 years ago she would have gotten off Scott free. I simply do not think a cop can afford to confuse a taser and a handgun. It does not matter one whit that this guy was fleeing or the excuse was “bad things happen”. I do hope she serves some time as she deserves it. 10 years seems about right
Unless there was testimony entered into the record that the public was privy to, where did the terminology “career criminal” come in? Last time I checked, resisting arrest (unless you just committed murder) doesn’t require a gun-shot response – there are other tools in the toolbelt. While it may have been accidental, someone lost their life at the hands of a supposed professional – that does not call for “community service”.
If stress makes you pull your lethal firearm (and use it) and not your (usually) non-lethal taser, then “police officer is not the job for you.
Unless you have the duty weapon and the taser mounter next to each other, there’s no way you can mistake one for the other. Your duty weapon is, and always has been, in the same place on your duty belt. Convince me I’m wrong. Before you even try, you can’t.
This is a case where, you would suppose, a well trained person made a mistake with a firearm. Now she will pay for that mistake. Hopefully with a sentence that fits the crime. And not the 110 ten trucker sentence.
A lesson in this for all who carry a gun. Mistakes will not be tolerated. You have chosen to carry a firearm and should be well trained in not just hitting something with it but how and when you can use it. It is your responsibility to know those things. Well trained people make fewer mistakes.
C’mon…an idiot cop mistook a GLOCK for a TASER and killed someone. Sure, he was a criminal POS but what she did WAS a crime. She took someone’s life. You can’t make a MISTAKE and kill someone without consequences.
Although found guilty by a jury I would appeal. This was NOT a traffic stop but a FELONY arrest. If you fight with the police bad things will ALWAYS happen. The color of your skin has nothing to do with being a criminal. She had reason to believe this man was carrying a gun. She believed she was doing the less lethal alternative but in retrospect she should have drawn her weapon FIRST. Her result should have been involuntary manslaughter.
100% correct. The only thing the police screwed up on was trying to arrest and cuff Wright in front of an open door to a vehicle. Once Wright regained control of the vehicle, he was in control of a deadly weapon and lethal force was justified. What was the appropriate actions to all you people who think Ofc. Potter made a mistake? A high speed chase through the community which could have resulted in additional loss of life and damaged or destroyed property? This trial should have never have been brought. Ofc Potter’s partner stated he felt his life was in danger. Ofc. Potter was protecting her life, the life of her partner and the community as a whole.
My sentiments exactly. I just don’t understand why the DA even brought her up on charges based on his outstanding warrant for possession of a dangerous weapon and trying to fee an arrest, endangering the lives of the arresting officers. Wasn’t lethal force authorized in this instance anyway? I’ll readily admit I know nothing about use-of-force policies but isn’t a taser still considered lethal force because people have had heart attacks and died after being hit by one?
Obviously this is political due to the racial tension in this country right now. This is a very sad situation, not only because the young man lost his life, but this has destroyed the life of a dedicated police officer whom has devoted her life to serving the community.
I’m not trying to put a racial spin on this, but when will young black people learn there are laws we have to live by and if you break them there are consequences to pay. This young man no doubt would still be alive had he followed police instructions. Familiar story with a familiar outcome.
Does anyone who’s listened to the video think that this accident is not going to haunt her for the rest of her life? Prison isn’t the best place for her. I think that a community service representative for the police department. Let her get out there and try to stop people from actions that will get them shot or killed. The public has know idea what stress the police are almost daily. They don’t want to shoot anyone but they also don’t want to be shot. Education for people who get pulled over. Don’t fight it with the police let the court sort it out.
It’s a shame that an outstanding 26 year veteran made a mistake , she should not b punished to that extent . She feared for there lives and proceeded to do as trained . . The joury will b haunted for the rest of there lives on the bad decision they made .
I agree. It was an accident & if he hadn’t tried to run it would not have happened. I think she should have been found NOT GUILTY
Of the many travesties affecting our country of late, the conviction of a dedicated, officer like Kim Potter with 26 years service for a genuine mistake has me sad, furious and disgusted. Once again, a feral thug displays the “fight or flight” mentality common in the jungle and winds up becoming worm food, and it’s the cop’s fault, whether Michael Brown, George Floyd or Daunte Wright and thousands of others. I can only hope Officer Potter is exonerated on appeal. I looked for a “GoFundMe” for her but found none. I hope the Minneapolis police union fully will support her appeal.
Hope you keep that same energy for those feral thugs who killed capital police and smeared shit on the walls with their hands, by the way your hood is showing.
Some people who make mistakes kill or (cause to die) other people. Airline pilots, train drivers, bus drivers, police and so on. A few days ago a medical crew pilot did just that in El Cajon CA . He died too. No criminals, no blacks, no guns. Lawyers will likely be there. But not to help society.
Two dead pilots, two dead nurses, no one on the ground was hurt. At least some luck.
The big factors here are cop, criminal, gun and lawyer. People aren’t perfect, the difference is she is alive and in the line of lawyer fire. I guess they are the only perfect people. Since they get paid for trying to make a perfect world.
A gutless jury now has to live with themselves.
I agree with E.H. If people would just quit braking the law and do the right things , none of this shit wound be happening black or white skin color isn’t the issue. Driving on expired tabs a warrant for his arrest on a weapons charge , and resisting arrest these have nothing to do with the color of his skin , but has everything to do with his character. Although I don’t think that he deserved to be shot and killed I do believe that he is just as responsible for the actions taken against him.
The guy that got shot was a violent career criminal who was violently resisting arrest and placing the arresting officer in extreme danger by attempting to drive away with the officer partially in the car. Her mistake was going for the taser. Had she just deliberately drawn her gun and shot him, it would have been a good shooting.
She took out the trash and we are all much better off with one less violent career criminal prowling the streets looking for his next victim.
She should receive a medal, not a jail sentence.
This situation is the reason why many departments began requiring cross-draw carry of Tasers years ago. This officer’s department bears some responsibility for the incident due to a reckless lack of responsible policy, hopefully they (and every other department without) learn from this incident and establish a cross-draw policy immediately.
Justice was not the aim of this trial. This was a political trial with this officer required to be an example.
Notice the same lawyers in front of the court house after each of these trials… ready to file suit and cash in on an opportunity.
Bad situation for all concerned. But a huge injustice against those that protect us from outlaws.
She made a mistake it should not have been handled as a criminal matter. For her mistake She should lost her job and been taken to civil court. As far as the guy that died, another Dumbass criminal that thinks it’s a good idea to break the law, drive on expired tags then resist arrest. At some point would think these idiots would learn instead of blaming the police when accidents and bad things happen while trying to do their jobs and not get killed themselves!
One thing for sure is that Ms. Potter had poor training and failed miserably at a high stress situation. IMO woman do not make good LEO’s.
And watch Alec get off scot-free. SMH.
Just comply with the police; it’s not rocket science!
Bad situation all around.
Just saying if he took the traffic ticket he wouldn’t have got shot. He got the number one prize in the game of stupid
What ever happened to the ex-Nigerian (or whatever he was) cop that killed the Australian woman several years ago?
It was an accident, but if you are going to carry or use firearms it’s your responsibility to use extreme caution and practice using them in a safe mannor. I would never place two weapons so close together, one on the left hip and one on the right hip and practice drawing the right one in an intense situation is the solution. NEED I SAY COMMITED AND REQUIRED PRACTICE.
All accidents come with consequences and negligent homicide can’t be shrugged off as a simple mistake. A person has been wrongfully killed and there should also be civil consequences. The officer is without a doubt the responsible party and must make restitution.
Consequences I agree, she made a major mistake, but what about the part he played, is there not equal responsibility in his death there? No one made him comment those crimes, and it’s not just one little crime it was major crimes that would put other people life a risk. He has as much responsibility in his death as the officer (who was trying to do her job that we the people ask her to do) that made the one fatal mistake. She could have been trained better maybe we the people that asked her to do that job should look at our coup ability. Hers was a mistake tell me with a straight face his action that led to this were mistakes. It is a tragedy and a terrible lose of life but to ruin two lives is wrong. At the worst it is involuntary man slaughter at best she should have lost her job not aloud back into policing and the civil courts can fight it out.
Ever notice it’s never law abiding citizens that get shot by the cops. Yes this was tragic but when are people going to learn that the more shit they do by breaking the law will eventually put them in situations like this. Weapons charges, driving on expired tags, and resisting arrest… just another thug in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While your sentiment is questionable, it is true that getting pulled over for anything does put you at a much higher statistical probability of death than most situations. So better wear your seatbelt or the cops might shoot you!
Faulty logic produces false sentiment, Gramps…which seems an apt description of your comment.
It’s more than seat belts Gramps, this mutt had a lot on his plate and thought he would play the race card and caused a lot of lives to get interrupted. Sucks all the way around no winners in this one.