On Friday, a Minnesota judge sentenced Kim Potter, a former officer of police, to two years imprisonment. This is far less than the amount sought by prosecutors for the fatal shooting at Daunte Wright, a Black motorist.
After emotional courtroom statements by the victims' loved ones and Regina Chu, Hennepin County Judge, the judge imposed the sentence on the former Brooklyn Center officer.
Chu directed Potter to serve two-thirds her sentence behind bars, and one-third on supervised release. She has already served 58 days behind bars. This will be to her credit.
After Friday's sentencing, Potter's online Department of Corrections records were updated quickly. This indicates that Potter will likely walk unassisted on April 24, next year.
Chu claimed Potter deserves a sentence of 86 months less than what was requested by prosecutors, because she tried to use her Taser instead of her gun.
She said that she is aware of the unpopularity of her decision.
Chu stated, "I know there will be people who disagree with this sentence. That I granted a significant down departure does not in any manner diminish Daunte Wright’s life."
Judge said that she has never seen such a case before.
Chu stated, "This is one the most saddest cases I've ever had in my 20-years on the bench."
In a long statement issued hours after sentencing, Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General, tried to strike a delicate balance between sympathizing and Wright's family, while also asking all parties to "accept" Judge Chu’s decision.
Ellison stated that Judge Chu heard testimony from witnesses and lawyers on both sides. "I accept her judgement. I appeal to everyone to accept her verdict. I do not ask you to accept her verdict. It is the truth of the jury. "
Katie Wright, the victim's mom, stated outside court that "the justice system killed him all over again."
As the ex-police officer apologized, the grieving mother seemed to ignore the pain caused by Potter's death.
She said, "This is not OK." This is the problem in our justice system today. White women's tears outweigh justice. My white woman tears were genuine and true, so I thought they would be enough.
Ben Crump was an attorney representing the family and was especially upset by Potter's sentence in comparison to the 57-monthpunishment against Mohamed Noor, a former Minneapolis police officer.
Noor, a Somalian immigrant, was convicted of shooting a 911 caller. He mistook her for a threat to his partner.
Crump stated that although he was sorry, they didn't make a downward departure from the Black police officer as they did for the white woman policewoman. That's problematic for many Americans of color. We continue to see intellectual justification for this."
Wright's mother requested that a judge send Wright's killer to prison before the sentence was handed down. Potter told her mother that she would never forgive Potter for what she had stolen.
Katie Wright stated that Daunte Wright was her son. She called him "my baby boy" and said that he is now my son. "Daunte's smile, as big and genuine as his dreams, was just like his dreams. They were yours. He took his future."
Potter, 49, was taken into custody just before Christmas 2013. Jurors convicted Potter of first-degree murder in the killing of Wright, 20, in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, on April 11, 2021.
Arbuey Wright, the victim's father, told court that he loved his son.
"I was proud to be his father. He was handsome. He was my son, my prince," said he. He was my reason for doing better. He was the reason I wanted to make a change in my life."
Wright was stopped by police and tried to be taken into custody on an outstanding weapon charge. He tried to get back in his car but the police refused to let him go.
After a brief struggle Potter, who was holding a Glock on her dominant right side and a Taser on her left, pulled out the firearm and shot Wright.
She gave evidence in her defense, stating that the shooting was accidental and she intended to pull her non-lethal Taser.
Wright's family was apologizing for a sobbing Potter Friday.
She said, "To the Daunte Wright family, I am so sorry I brought the death your son, brother and father, uncles, grandson, nephew, and the rest of the family to your home."
"Katie, I understand the love of a mother and I'm sorry I hurt your heart."
Paul Engh, a defense lawyer, called Potter's act an "unintentional crime" but said that his client is suitable for probation and not prison.
Engh stated to the court that "this (case) is beyond tragic"
Potter sat at defense table in a purple sweater, and a blue paper mask.
Engh disputed the claims of the prosecution and victims' families that Potter didn’t show concern for Wright following her shooting.
He said, "She was remorseful since the gun was fired." "We don't have a Kafkaesque standard for what remorse looks like."
The defense stated that Potter was being held in isolation to ensure her safety. Engh presented to the judge a box containing "thousands", of cards and sympathetic letters that were sent to Potter.
He said, "People took the effort to write her." This is rare for a defendant. "I dare to say that no one in the room has ever seen anything similar."
Matthew Frank, the prosecutor, said that the crime's consequences cannot be underestimated, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.
"His name was Daunte Wright. We must say his name. Frank stated that he wasn't just a driver, but a living person and a human being.
"The sanctity and protection of human life is the highest principle in law enforcement. His life was important. His life was important. That life was lost and the law recognized its severity when it imposed criminal penalties.
Frank choked back emotion when he said to Chu that this case required significant prison time.
He said, "This is a courtroom filled with pain and anger." How can we fix this? What can we do to fix it?
A white officer shot Wright to death in Minneapolis, triggering renewed protests and calls for justice .
Wright was shot to death about 10 miles from the courthouse in Minneapolis, where he was being tried for murdering George Floyd .
Chauvin was convicted of second and third degree murder. He also was convicted for second-degree manslaughter. The killing of Floyd, a Black male, on May 25, 2020, set off a season of protests against police brutality, institutional racism, and second-degree manslaughter.
The same courtroom was used for Chauvin's trial.