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Kim Potter, Ex-Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright, Given 16-Month Sentence – Mother Jones


Kim Potter, Ex-Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright, Given 16-Month Sentence – Mother Jones

Daunte Wright’s parents Arbuey and Katie react after Kim Potter’s sentencing Friday. Nicole Neri/AP

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This morning a Hennepin County judge sentenced Kim Potter—the police officer who shot and killed a 20-year old Black man named Daunte Wright last April in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center—to 16 months in prison and eight months on supervised release. She will also be fined $1,000.

It is a lighter sentence than some expected. A 26-year veteran of the department, former police union president, and a field training officer, Potter claimed to have been reaching for her Taser when she pulled out her gun and shot and killed Wright. My colleague Samantha Michaels wrote about so-called “weapons confusion” last year. “It’s not ’causes’—it’s just a simple root cause,” an expert in police weapons training told her of the problem. “It’s because they designed the Taser like a gun in order to take advantage of the firearms training that officers do.”

In December, Potter was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter. The state sentencing guidelines for first-degree manslaughter charges are up to 15 years imprisonment. The prosecution team, led by Attorney General Keith Ellison, had requested seven years, closer to the guidelines for someone with no criminal record. But, in her closing statements, Judge Regina Chu went below both. Chu said that guidelines can change “depending on the particular facts of the case.” 

The particular facts of this case that warranted a “downward departure” from the typical sentencing guidelines according to the judge can be summarized like this: Being a cop is hard.

Chu explained, almost crying, that cops have to make quick decisions in tense and chaotic situations. She noted Potter meant to reach for her Taser. And the judge even took time to differentiate Potter’s charge from the other officers tried in the same court—Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd, and former MPD officer Mohamed Noor, who…

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