It took nearly an entire year, but former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter has finally been found guilty of murder. Her own prediction at the scene of the crime came true on Thursday, December 23rd. Potter cried out, “I’m going to prison,” after shooting Daunte Wright earlier this year. Indeed, Potter will now spend more than a decade in prison unless a judge decides she is deserving of early release.
The jurors who heard the Potter case decided she was guilty of manslaughter. Potter has the potential to spend 11 years in prison. The former Minnesota police officer alleges she reached for her taser yet mistakenly pulled out her gun and shot Wright to death at a traffic stop. The jurors who decided Potter’s fate began their deliberations on Monday, and reached a decision four days later.
The jury consisted of a dozen individuals with half of them being men and the other half women. It is interesting to note the racial makeup of the jury was nine white individuals, two Asian Americans and a single African American. It is worth noting that Potter is a white female.
Details of the Deadly Encounter
Potter shot Wright this past April 11th. Potter’s body cam footage shows Wright was shot after he attempted to flee arrest. Potter and her partner were attempting to arrest Wright on a weapons charge this past spring in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Wright’s death spurred nationwide protests. Those protests occurred in unison with the Derek Chauvin murder trial in which he was eventually found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
The bodycam footage from the murder was essential to proving Potter’s guilt. If the bodycam was inactivated at the time of the shooting or if police officers did not wear bodycams, as was the case years ago, it would have been much more difficult for the jury to reach a guilty verdict. The video footage even reveals Potter wailing out that she had shot the suspect and would be going to prison.
The Dramatic Courtroom Scene
The announcement of the guilty verdict caught some by surprise as it appears as though Potter made a genuine mistake when reaching for and using her loaded gun instead of her taser. Furthermore, courts throughout the United States have been historically biased toward police officers as both organizations are state-funded and serve the public good. However, Potter’s shooting of Wright was clearly an egregiously negligent act, meaning she failed to provide Wright with the duty of care he deserved.
Potter was put in handcuffs and removed from the courtroom after the verdict was announced. Potter was put into custody prior to her transition to jail where she will be held without bail all the way up until her February 18th sentencing. Potter was not visibly shaken by the verdict. Rather, it looked as though she had been lobotomized.
The former police officer was quite emotional when she took the stand. Potter embraced the opportunity to testify in court, fighting through tears to give her side of the story. The former Minnesota police officer exclaimed she was sorry for the shooting and insisted she had no intention of hurting anybody.
Potter Received No Sympathy From the Judge
Her criminal defense attorney, Earl Gray, insisted she should be allowed to spend time in her home until the point of sentencing. Gray argued Potter’s bail of $100,000 would preclude her from fleeing town or the country. However, the judge presiding over the case, Regina Chu, denied the request, stating she cannot treat Potter’s case any different than other cases.
One of the prosecutors handling the case, Erin Eldridge, had some interesting comments as the trial came to a close. Eldridge also served as a prosecutor in the Derek Chauvin trial. She commented, “This was a colossal screw-up, a blunder of epic proportions. It was precisely the thing she was warned about for years and she was trained to prevent it.”
Gray also insisted that Potter had betrayed her badge. However, it was Gray’s fellow prosecutor, General Keith Ellison who spearheaded the bulk of the prosecution in the case. Ellison also worked on the Chauvin case that ultimately culminated in a guilty verdict.
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Ellison made note of Katie Wright’s comments about her son, highlighting her recent description of the victim: “[My] son had a smile that was worth a million dollars. When he walked in the room, he lit up the room.” Wright, the father of a young child, was merely 20-years-old when he passed away.