A jury on Thursday convicted a former suburban Minneapolis police officer of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, the young father who was killed during a traffic stop in April.
The mostly White jury deliberated for about 27 hours before finding Kimberly Potter, a former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer, guilty of all charges in the killing of Wright, an unarmed 20-year-old Black man.
Potter’s conviction — which could yield a prison sentence of 11 years or more — capped a year of racially charged trials that gained national prominence, including the November conviction of three men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Wright’s death made headlines during the final days of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the slaying of George Floyd.
Potter, who is White, claimed she mistook her gun for her Taser .
Judge Regina Chu ordered that Potter be taken into custody and held without bail pending her sentencing date, which was set for Feb. 18.
In a press conference following the verdict, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office led the prosecution, declined to specify what sentence he would recommend for Potter to receive, only saying that he wanted “a fair one” and he described the verdict as a measure of “accountability” but said it was not “justice.”
“Justice would be restoring Daunte to life and making the Wright family whole again,” Ellison said as he stood with members of the prosecution team and Wright’s parents.
Ellison urged people to “reflect upon” Wright’s life “and who he could have been had he had a chance to grow up.”
Officers said they pulled Wright over in April after noticing that he had been driving with an expired tag and an air freshener illegally hanging from his rearview mirror.
From the beginning, the stop was a mess. The rookie police officer approached Wright because of expired license tags at a time when motor vehicle offices were backlogged all over America because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Police stopped Wright for having an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror. Wright’s paperwork was a mess. He called his mother.
Police body-camera footage showed three officers around the car. When another officer attempts to handcuff Wright, a second officer tells him he is being arrested on a misdemeanor warrant. That’s when a struggle begins, followed by the shooting.
Wright reportedly struggled against officers who tried to get him out of the car. Potter could be heard saying “Taser” in body camera footage while brandishing her gun toward him.
Potter could later be heard saying “I just shot him” after the 20-year-old drove away. The car advanced several blocks before striking another vehicle.
Subsequent to the fatal shooting, Potter resigned from the police department.
Potter took the witness stand last week, breaking down at one point and saying “I’m sorry” as she was being cross-examined by prosecutors.
She said she had made a mistake and had sought to use her stun gun against Wright instead of her gun. The defense team claimed that an officer could have been dragged by Wright’s car, saying Potter would have been within her rights to use such force.