Kim Potter, the former police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday. She was convicted of first-degree manslaughter last December for killing the 20-year-old after mistaking her firearm for a taser.
The penalty, given by Judge Regina Chu, was well below the state guidelines as described by prosecutors in the case. Though defense attorneys for Kim Potter asked for a sentence of probation only, AP News reported that state guidelines on the charge of first-degree manslaughter usually range between a sentencing of six to eight years.
Judge Chu stated that the “difficult decision” was made along with mitigating factors pertinent to testimony and remorse shown by Potter during the case.
“This case is highly unusual. … This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine-and-a-half minutes as he gasped for air,” Judge Chu said. “The evidence is undisputed that officer Potter never intended to use her firearm.”
“I recognize there will be those who disagree with the sentence that I granted a significant downward departure does not in any way diminish Daunte Wright’s life,” she continued. “His life mattered.”
Potter will serve 16 months of that prison time, about two-thirds of the total sentence, whereafter she will be up for parole and eligible for release on good behavior before her two years are through. She also has the right to appeal the sentence.
Taking the stand during the sentencing hearing on Friday, Kim Potter apologized to Daunte Wright’s family, stating that she was “so sorry that I brought the death of your son, father, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew and the rest of your family, to your home.”
In an emotional gesture, she spoke directly to Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, stating, “I understand a mother’s love, and I am sorry I broke your heart.”
“I pray for Daunte and all of you many, many times a day. He is not more than one thought away from my heart and I have no right for that, for him to be in my heart,” Kim Potter continued. “And I do pray that one day, you can find forgiveness, only because hatred is so destructive to all of us. And that I pray peace will always be with you and your family. Again, I am so sorry.”
The fatal shooting occurred back in April 2021, when Daunte Wright was pulled over for a traffic stop as part of a training exercise for new recruits. Attempting to arrest the 20-year-old, officer Kim Potter testified that she mistook her firearm for her taser, firing one shot and ending the young Black man’s life.
Daunte’s parents spoke at the hearing before Potter’s sentence was announced and asked for the maximum sentence due to gross negligence from Potter and the Minnesota state police.
“I ask that Kim Potter be held accountable and that the maximum sentence be applied, which is incomparable to the life sentence we have been given, because of her negligence,” Arbuey Wright, Daunte’s father, said. “My son Daunte’s life was taken away, way too soon, and he’s never coming back, and it has affected my whole family.”
“A police officer who was supposed to serve and protect someone took so much from us,” Daunte’s mother added. “She failed Daunte, our family and our community.”
Following the sentencing, Daunte Wright’s parents told reporters that they felt cheated and were “disappointed.” They had asked Judge Chu for the maximum sentence and got well below the suggested state guidelines.
“I walked out of this courthouse feeling like people are laughing at us because this lady [Potter] got a slap on the wrist, and we still every night sitting around crying, waiting on my son to come home,” Arbuey Wright said, fighting back tears. “I’m upset.”