The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April has been found guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter.
Kimberly Potter will be held without bail as she awaits her sentencing in the shooting of the 20-year-old unarmed Black man. The incident occurred in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center when Potter says Wright allegedly resisted arrest after being pulled over. Potter’s former police chief said that the officer believed she was shooting her Taser, and not her service weapon, when she fired a single shot that killed Wright.
According to the criminal complaint, Potter’s Glock 9mm handgun was holstered on the right side of her duty belt, with the Taser on the left side and the handles of both facing Potter’s rear. The Taser is supposedly distinguishable by its yellow color with a black grip, and set in a “straight-draw position,” meaning Potter would likely have to use her left hand to pull it from its holster. But she shot Wright with her right hand, the complaint states.
Let’s never forget sadly that Daunte Wright was initially pulled over for an air freshener hanging on his rear view mirror, a simple traffic code violation.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) December 23, 2021
Potter had entered a plea of Not Guilty in the trial that had started in late November. Her body camera footage revealed that after Daunte Wright was pulled over and approached by two officers for what former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said were expired car tags, Wright, standing by the open driver’s side door of his vehicle, wrestled free of handcuffs as they were being applied. Wright then apparently jumped back into his car with his girlfriend inside and appeared to try to drive off.
While today’s verdict brings rare accountability for police, it is a continuing national disgrace that Daunte Wright was one of more than 5,000 people killed by police since 2015. pic.twitter.com/ETpwVPhHRQ
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 23, 2021
As the unarmed Wright did so, “the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” Gannon said at a news conference after the shooting. Wright was struck in the chest. His vehicle then traveled several blocks before crashing into another car, and he died at the scene. During the trial, Potter’s defense called the shooting a “horrific mistake,” but also asserted that Potter would have been within her rights to use deadly force on Wright because he could have dragged another officer with his car.
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison on Kim Potter conviction: "At this moment, I ask us all to reflect upon the life of Daunte Wright, and who he could've been had he had a chance to grow up." https://t.co/JleCoD8Ux1 pic.twitter.com/eIO7cxlukx
— ABC News (@ABC) December 23, 2021
Potter was taken into custody and held without bail to await her sentencing in January. The first-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years, while the second-degree charge carries a four-year charge.
Judge Regina Chu reads the guilty verdict for the charge of first-degree manslaughter against former police officer Kim Potter. pic.twitter.com/QhuqH90qC5
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) December 23, 2021