Kim Potter SMILES in her mugshot as she faces up to 25 years in prison after being found GUILTY of first and second degree manslaughter for shooting dead Daunte Wright, 20, when she ‘mistook her gun for her Taser’ during traffic stop
- Kim Potter was found guilty of first and second degree manslaughter on Thursday for shooting 20-year-old black motorist Daunte Wright dead on April 11
- The jury of six men and six women – nine white, two Asian and one black – deliberated for four days after being sent out Monday afternoon
- Judge Regina Chu ordered Potter be taken into custody and held without bail and scheduled her to be sentenced on February 18
- The decision came after close to 28 hours of deliberations, during which jurors had, at times, seemed hopelessly deadlocked
- Prosecutors said Wright’s death was ‘entirely preventable’ and ‘totally avoidable’, while the defense countered that the former cop made an honest mistake by pulling her handgun instead of her Taser
- Prosecutors had to prove recklessness or culpable negligence in order to win a conviction
Kim Potter flashes a smile in her new mugshot shortly after being found guilty of first and second-degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright’s death
Ex-Brooklyn Center cop Kim Potter is seen grinning from ear to ear in her new mugshot shortly after she was convicted of first and second degree manslaughter for shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright dead.
Potter, 49, was led away in handcuffs at Hennepin County Court on Thursday and ordered to be held without bail ahead of her sentencing in February.
Jurors in the dramatic eight-day trial came to a decision after close to 28 hours of deliberations, during which they had, at times, seemed hopelessly deadlocked.
The jury of six men and six women – nine white, two Asian and one black – alerted the judge that they had reached a verdict shortly before noon on the fourth day of deliberations.
Potter remained impassive between her attorneys and did not react throughout the reading of the guilty verdict or the news that she would be taken into custody.
One of the jurors wept and shook as the decision was read. Wright’s family members let out loud sighs with each guilty count.
As she left the courtroom, her husband, who was present with the couple’s sons, shouted ‘I love you, Kim.’ Potter did not react.
After reading out the outcome, Judge Regina Chu confirmed with each juror individually that this was their ‘true and correct verdict.’ The judge told group they were ‘the heroes of our judicial system.’
After Potter was led from the courtroom, prosecutor Erin Eldridge exchanged a long hug with a tearful Katie Bryant, Wright’s mother and a frequent presence at the trial, and with Wright’s father.
Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office handled the prosecution, also exchanged hugs with the parents.
Kim Potter was found guilty of first and second degree manslaughter on Thursday for shooting 20-year-old black motorist Daunte Wright dead during a botched traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11
Potter remained impassive between her attorneys and did not react throughout reading of the verdict or the news that she would be taken into custody
The former police officer, 49, reacts after being convicted of both manslaughter charges, which carry a 15 and 10 year max sentence, respectively
Potter was led from the courtroom in handcuffs. Judge Regina Chu ordered she be held without bail and scheduled her to be sentenced on February 18
It was the second high-profile conviction of a police officer won this year by a team led by Ellison, including some of the same attorneys who helped convict Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death in the very same courtroom just eight months earlier.
Stepping up to the microphone in a brief press conference following the verdict, Ellison said that Kim Potter had gone from being ‘an esteemed member of the community and honored member of a noble profession’ to a person convicted of a serious crime.
He said that he wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
But according to the AG, Potter’s conviction was an ‘important step’ towards justice while it fell short of ever truly being that.
Echoing the speech he made following the conviction of Derek Chauvin in March, Ellison explained that this conviction was merely, ‘accountability.’
Justice, he said ‘is restoration and making the Wright family whole again,’ and that, ‘is beyond our reach.’
Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, hugged Ellison and said the verdicts triggered ‘every single emotion that you could imagine.’
‘Today we have gotten accountability and that´s what we´ve been asking for from the beginning,’ Bryant said, crediting supporters for keeping up pressure.
‘We love you, we appreciate you, and honestly, we could not have done it without you,’ she said.
Once the jury was released, Potter’s attorneys made a plea to the judge to reconsider her decision to take the ex-cop into custody.
Defense attorney Paul Engh told the judge: ‘She is a devoted Catholic. She’s not a risk to the public.’ Attorney Earl Gray added that Potter had ‘deep roots in the community’ and ‘is not going anywhere.’
Judge Chu refused to budge informing both: ‘I cannot treat this case any differently than any other case.’
Officer Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran in the force, claims she accidentally shot Daunte Wright (right) when she reached for her gun instead of her taser during a traffic stop over his expired plates in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11
Daunte Wright’s brother Damik Wright (center) celebrates at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis after a jury convicted officer Kim Potter of manslaughter
Crowds of demonstrators watching the verdict on their smartphones and braving the frigid Minnesota temperatures celebrated and rejoiced as Potter was led away in handcuffs Thursday
George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross responding to the guilty verdict outside of the Hennepin County District Courthouse
She will now consider from the state regarding their so-called ‘Blakely issues’ – aggravating factors that they say speak to a need for a higher sentence than someone with Potter’s lack of criminal record might otherwise receive on the charges.
Similarly, her defense have said they plan to put in a motion asking for a lesser or probational sentence. The defense has asked for a month to do this while the state said they will need two weeks.
A date for these motions has been set for January 31 with sentencing set for 9am, Friday February 18.
Potter was led away in handcuffs and ordered to be held without bail ahead of her sentencing in February
Potter will serve out her sentence in Minnesota’s Shakopee Woman’s Prison. Under Minnesota statute, the minimum sentence possible given the severity of her convictions is three years. That sentence would see her spend two of those years in prison.
While the atmosphere inside courtroom felt tense and quiet following the verdict, outside, crowds of demonstrators tuning in on their smartphones and braving the frigid Minnesota temperatures celebrated and rejoiced as Potter was led away in handcuffs.
Among them was the former girlfriend of George Floyd, Courteney Ross, who earlier told DailyMail.com: ‘We are hoping for a guilty verdict. We need justice for this family. If it’s a hung jury they’ll need to retry her.’
Two men jumped up and down holding one another’s shoulders. Other people then began jumping up and down in place and chanting ‘Guilty, guilty, guilty!’
Addressing the media outside Hennepin County Courthouse, Attorney General Ellison focused on Potter’s victim.
He said: ‘At this moment I ask us all to reflect upon the life of Daunte Wright and who he could have been had he had a chance to grow up.
‘At 20 Daunte could have done anything, maybe he could have gone into the building trade, maybe he could have started a business.
‘What we know is that he was a young dad and so proud of his son Daunte Jr and we know that he loved his mom and his dad and his siblings and his big, beautiful family.
‘He had his whole life ahead of him and he could have been anyone. All of us miss out on who Daunte would have been.’
Nobody, Ellison said, missed him more than his parents as he extended his ‘deepest condolences’ to Arbuey and Katie Wright who stood behind him.
‘There will be an empty chair at the Wright family table during the Holidays and that saddens me,’ Ellison said.
Ellison thanked his team, the witnesses and the jury and he said that the verdict should not be seen as a discouragement to other law enforcement officers.
In fact, he said: ‘When a member of your profession is held accountable it does not diminish you. It shows the whole world that those of your who enforce the law are also willing to live by it.
‘It restores faith, trust and hope.’
He said that it does that by showing: ‘Nobody is above the law. Nobody is beneath the law.’
The conviction marks the sensational conclusion to a trial during which the jury heard eight days of testimony.
At different times both the state and the defense said that this was not a difficult case. According to the state, it ‘wasn’t complicated.’ According to the defense, ‘mistakes happen.’
But jurors had hinted that they were struggling to reach the necessary consensus for conviction or acquittal on Tuesday afternoon. On Thursday it was revealed the jury had reached a verdict on the second-degree charge on Tuesday but had struggled to reach consensus on the more serious count.
Then, after more than 13 hours of deliberations they asked the judge: ‘If the jury cannot reach consensus what is the guidance around how long and what steps should be taken?’ It would be another 15 hours before they finally squared the circle and reached their verdict.
Had they continued deliberating through today Judge Chu had informed the jurors, who were sequestered in a hotel for this portion of the trial, that she would recall them to continue on December 27.
Instead, with this conclusion they are now released from their duties, and it will be for the court to decide if and when their names will be made public.
During the jury selection process some jurors had expressed concerns over their safety should their names become known, and their identity has been closely guarded throughout proceedings.
Addressing the jury after the decision, Judge Chu told them: ‘When you first came into the courtroom I told you that jurors are the heroes of our judicial system. The twelve of you were heroes in this case.’
Before being selected, jurors had been asked whether or not they wanted to serve.
‘You may remember,’ the judge said, ‘A number of you checked, “No” or “Not sure,” and a few checked all three [including yes] but when I asked each of you if you would be willing to serve if the parties selected you you all said, “Yes.”
She continued: ‘You said yes even though we are in a pandemic with Omicron spreading in our community. You said yes even though you had concerns about serving given the nature of the case.
‘You said yes even though you knew you would be sequestered away from your loved ones and you said yes even though there was a chance this case could have lasted past Christmas.
‘You were willing to sacrifice much because you believe in our judicial system.’
Judge Chu dismissed them wishing them the ‘peace and beauty of the season’ and said that she would thank them each individually.
On Tuesday it became clear jurors were struggling to come to a verdict after seeking advice from the judge on what to do if they are unable to reach an agreement.
Judge Regina Chu returned to the bench to answer two jury questions which were lodged at 4pm CT after more than 13 hours of deliberations.
The first and most revealing question was, ‘If the jury cannot reach consensus what is the guidance around how long and what steps should be taken?’
Judge Chu responded by repeating the instructions she gave when jurors were sent out following closing statements Monday.
The second question was whether they could remove the zip ties on Potter’s gun in the evidence box so they can more easily examine it.
Judge Chu allowed the request before sending the jurors back out to continue deliberations.
Had they continued deliberating through today Judge Regina Chu had informed the jurors, who were sequestered in a hotel for this portion of the trial, that she would recall them to continue on December 27.
Across those days the state fielded more than 20 witnesses while the defense called just eight.
Key among the defense’s was Potter herself who broke down on the stand and told the court that she was ‘sorry’ and hadn’t meant to hurt anyone.
From prosecutors’ standpoint that held little sway. This was never a case about intent, they told the jury again and again, and there was no ‘mistake defense.’ This the state alleged, was about conduct and Potter’s, they argued, was criminally reckless.
For their part Potter’s defense team maintained quite the opposite.
Led by Earl Gray – the attorney representing Thomas Lane one of the three officers still awaiting trial in George Floyd’s death – Potter’s attorneys told the jury of a career beyond reproach.
She was an officer who was a member of the Domestic Assault Response Team, a Field Training Officer, a member of the honor guard and casket carrier for officers killed in the line of duty.
She was a mother, a wife and a sister, a mentor and mother figure to many. Potter, 49, was a good cop who made a mistake they said.
There was no crime here and the only person to blame for Daunte Wright’s death was Wright himself.
Had the 20-year-old surrendered, Gray and co-chair Paul Engh said more than once, he would have been alive today.
In fact, the defense argued, Potter’s use of a taser was not only reasonable it was an attempt at ‘de-escalation.’ She would, they said, have been within her rights to use deadly force to prevent Wright from fleeing and endangering the safety of her fellow officers.
According to the defense, the state’s case was a ‘confusing mess.’ In truth, the prosecution’s own witnesses contradicted each other as, under cross examination, the defense converted three of them into their own.
Daunte’s father Aubrey Wright told DailyMail.com that the family is ‘hoping’ for a decision as he entered the courthouse Thursday
Katie Bryant (right) the mother of Daunte Wright, arrives at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis Thursday on the fourth day of deliberations
Earlier in the trial, jurors were shown body cam and dash cam footage of the dramatic moment Potter shot Wright dead after ‘accidentally’ pulling out her gun instead of her taser. Potter said she mistakenly grabbed her gun after the traffic stop devolved into ‘chaos’
The jury deciding Kim Potter’s fate had to reach a consensus on first and second degree manslaughter charges, which carry a 15 and 10-year max sentence, respectively
Potter broke down in tears as she testified in her trial last Friday, hoping to persuade jurors to acquit her of manslaughter charges in what she has said was a gun-Taser mix-up
The jury on Tuesday asked the judge whether they could remove the zip ties on Potter’s gun to more easily examine it. Pictured: Potter’s gun and taser side by side
Patrol Major Mychal Johnson, Brooklyn Center Police Department (BCPD) Commander Garett Flesland and BCPD taser expert Mike Peterson all agreed with the defense that deadly force would have been reasonable and justified.
In stark contrast the state’s Use of Force Expert Professor Seth Stoughton told the court that Potter was not even justified in pulling her taser. There was risk in the situation, he told the jury, but no actual threat, which rendered any use of force inappropriate.
In closing arguments both sides rehearsed their central arguments – the prosecution at some length, with Erin Eldridge speaking for well over an hour and Matthew Frank mounting a rebuttal that the defense claimed was inappropriately wide-ranging in its scope and tantamount to a second closing.
Earl Gray’s closing though scattered and argumentative was more succinct.
THE MINNESOTA WOMENS PRISON WHERE KIM POTTER WILL SERVE OUT HER SENTENCE FOR MANSLAUGHTER
Kim Potter will serve out her sentence in Minnesota’s Shakopee Woman’s Prison. Under Minnesota statute, the minimum sentence possible given the severity of her convictions is three years. That sentence would see her spend two of those years in prison.
Shakopee Correctional Facility is Minnesota’s only women’s only prison. It was established in 1920 as the State Reformatory for Women housing 78 prisoners.
Historically the prison focused on ‘reforming’ mostly white sex workers and other low-income women but as more women ended up behind its walls the focus shifted from ‘retraining’ to confinement.
By the 1970s the facility had been renamed, the Minnesota Correctional Institution for Women, but prisoners were still required to wear dresses to dinner.
Shakopee women’s prison Minnesota
Today the prison houses around 600 inmates across all five custody levels and consists of ten buildings
The average age of woman incarcerated was 48. Potter is 49 and arguably the facility’s most high profile inmate to date.
Today the prison houses around 600 inmates across all five custody levels and consists of ten buildings.
These include six inmate living areas, a mental health unit and segregation facility as well as administrative buildings.
As well as having a chemical dependency treatment program the prison has programs that promote good parenting and teaching skills and several college courses.
Women can also train dogs to become service animals.
When it was originally built the prison had no perimeter fence or wall and only a hedge surrounded the property until 2016. Despite this only eight prisoners have escaped and all were recaptured.
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