Ex-Cop Kim Potter Gets 2 Years in Prison

Former suburban Minnesota cop fired her gun instead of her Taser at Daunte Wright
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2021 10:12 AM CST
Updated Feb 18, 2022 11:14 AM CST
'Three to Five Years Ago, This Would Be a Full Acquittal'
In this screen grab from video, former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter stands with defense attorney Earl Gray, as the verdict is read Thursday at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.   (Court TV via AP, Pool)

(Newser) Update: A judge on Friday sentenced former suburban Minnesota police officer Kim Potter to two years in prison for the death of a 20-year-old Black motorist at a traffic stop, reports the AP. Potter said she mistook her gun for her Taser in the death of Daunte Wright. Potter was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors wanted a longer sentence of about 8 years in accordance with state guidelines, while the defense thought a probation-only sentence would be fair. Our story from December follows:

Former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter, convicted Thursday of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, may face worse news than expected at her February sentencing. Under state sentencing guidelines, the 49-year-old could get up to 11 years in prison—seven years for the first-degree conviction and four for the second-degree conviction, reports the Washington Post. However, prosecutors plan to seek an even longer sentence because of additional factors, arguing, among other things, that her actions endangered other people at the scene. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 18, and the judge ordered Potter held without bail in the interim.

The family of the 20-year-old Wright, meanwhile, expressed relief at the guilty verdicts, reports Axios. "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," says a statement from their attorneys. Says Wright's mother, Katie Bryant: "The moment we heard guilty on manslaughter one—emotions, every single emotion that you can imagine, just running through your body. ... This is just a step forward in the bigger issue with policing and hopefully there has to be no more Dauntes."

Potter, who is white, shot Wright, who was Black, during a traffic stop. She said she mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her Taser, and her defense team argued unsuccessfully that the mistake did not amount to a crime. CNN talks to legal experts who say the verdict is a sign of a continuing shift in regard to police accountability. "Three to five years ago, this would be a full acquittal, not even a concern over a mistrial," says criminal defense attorney Sara Azari, who was not involved in the case. "So the fact that we are now seeing more accountability for officers—the idea they are not above the law, that if they do the crime, they do the time." (Read more on the case here.)

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