Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter was sentenced Friday to two years in prison in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.
Potter must serve 16 months of that sentence in prison. She received credit for the 58 days she’s already spent behind bars since her conviction. The final third of Potter’s sentence will be served outside of prison, on supervised release.
The punishment is a significant downward departure from Minnesota’s presumptive sentencing guidelines, which called for just over seven years.
Potter, 49, was convicted in December of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Wright, 20, during a traffic stop in April 2021.
“This is the saddest case in my 20 years on the bench,” Hennepin County District Court Judge Regina Chu said before handing down Potter’s sentence.
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On the one hand, a young man was killed. On the other hand, a respected 26-year veteran police officer made a tragic error by pulling a handgun instead of a Taser.”
Potter faced a maximum of 15 years in prison. Because Potter had no criminal record, state guidelines indicate that she should receive 86 months in prison, which is just over seven years.
Chu ruled that Potter deserved less than what the state guidelines called for. “Officer Potter made a mistake that ended tragically. She never intended to hurt anyone,” she said. “This is a cop who made a tragic mistake.”
Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, said in a victim impact statement Friday that she will never forgive Potter.
“Daunte Wright is my son, my baby boy, and I say ‘is’ and not ‘was’ because he will always be my son, and I’m proud to say that,” she said.
“I have spent many, many sleepless nights and days contemplating how and what I was going to say today,” she said. “I have to be the voice for myself, my family, my community, most of all for my son, Daunte.”
Bryant criticized Potter for smiling in her prison mugshot. Potter’s defense attorney, Paul Engh, later said in court that Potter was told to smile by prison staff.
Just before 2 p.m. April 11, Brooklyn Center police officer Anthony Luckey and his field training officer, Potter, pulled over a white Buick at 63rd Avenue North and Orchard Avenue North in Brooklyn Center, according to the criminal complaint.
Luckey checked Wright’s identification and found that he had a warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons charge. Luckey and Potter approached the driver’s side of the car and asked Wright to get out and place his hands behind his back.