Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright, was found guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter.
The decision was announced Thursday, Dec. 23, after four days of jury deliberation. Potter will likely face several years in prison. First-degree manslaughter typically carries a seven year sentence, and up to 15 years, while second-degree manslaughter carries a minimum of four and a maximum of 10.
Potter fatally shot Wright on April 11, after Wright was pulled over for expired registration tags and because officers saw an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror (which is against the law in Minnesota). When the officers discovered there was a misdemeanor warrant out for Wright’s arrest, they tried to detain him. In body camera footage, Wright can be seen trying to get back into his car, and after a scuffle Potter can be heard shouting, “Taser,” while point her gun at Wright and then shooting.
Potter’s trial lasted nearly two weeks and featured 33 witnesses, including Potter herself. During closing arguments, per The Associated Press, Potter’s lawyer, Earl Gray, argued that the ex-cop merely committed a mistake, not a crime. He also tried to foist the blame on Wright for his own death, claiming Wright “caused the whole incident” by trying to flee from police, and that Potter accidentally grabbed her gun instead of her taser because there “was chaos.”
Meanwhile, prosecutor Erin Eldridge called Wright’s death “entirely preventable,” and said Potter made a “blunder of epic proportions.” In response to Gray’s “mistake” argument, Elridge stated, “Accidents can still be crimes if they occur as a result of reckless or culpable negligence… She drew a deadly weapon. She aimed it. She pointed it at Daunte Wright’s chest, and she fired.”