HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. — On Friday, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu sentenced former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter to two years for shooting and killing Daunte Wright.
Per Minnesota rules, at least 16 months of that sentence will be served in prison. The rest of the sentence, eight months, will be served on supervised release assuming there are no disciplinary offenses or conditional release violations.
Potter already has credit for 58 days served.
As of Friday afternoon, the Department of Corrections lists Potter's expected release date as April 24, 2023.
In December, a jury found Potter guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter in connection to the 20-year-old's death during a traffic stop in April 2021.
On Feb. 15, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office had filed a motion seeking the standard presumptive sentence of 86 months, or just over seven years for Potter. Prosecutor Matthew Frank echoed that request Friday morning. Potter's defense attorney Paul Engh asked for probation.
Before issuing the sentence, Chu explained that several factors supported a downward departure from the state guidelines: Potter didn't intend to draw her firearm, Potter was dealing with a chaotic scene and her actions weren't driven by personal animosity toward Daunte Wright.
Before issuing her ruling, Judge Chu called this case one of the saddest cases she's dealt with in her 20 years on the bench.
Chu handed down the two-year sentence after hearing remarks from prosecutor Frank and Engh, impact statements from members of Daunte Wright's family; his mother Katie Wright, his father Arbuey Wright, his sister Diamond Wright, his brother Damik Bryant, Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Daunte's young son, and a statement from Kim Potter.
"I have to be the voice for myself, my family, my community but most of all I have to be the voice of my son Daunte," Katie Wright said Friday morning.
“I’ll never be able to forgive you for what you’ve stolen from us," she said to Potter. “She took our baby boy with a single gunshot through his heart and shattered mine.”
Daunte's father Arbuey told the courtroom, “Everything we do as a family ends in tears. All we have is memories left of our son.”
Through tears, Chyna Whitaker talked about all of the things Daunte Wright won't get to do with their son, Daunte Jr., who is now 2 years old.
“I can't take the place of his father, and neither can any other man. All I can do is hope and pray things get better for us," she said.
Multiple family members also expressed their outrage over Kim Potter's booking photo, which was taken after her manslaughter conviction. In the photo, Potter is smiling. During his remarks, Paul Engh said no disrespect was meant by the photo and that the prison had asked Potter to smile in the photo.
Potter was the last person to speak before Judge Chu issued her sentence. Potter spoke directly to Daunte's family, particularly his mother Katie Wright, and apologized for hurting her. She also apologized to the Brooklyn Center community for what happened in the wake of Daunte's death.
"To the family of Daunte Wright. I'm so sorry that I brought the death of your son, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew to your home," she said. "Katie, I understand a mother's love and I'm sorry I broke your heart. My heart is broken for all of you."
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association's Executive Director Brian Peters issued a statement after Potter's sentencing, saying in part:
“While we disagreed with the trial verdict, we respect the court and jury’s role, and appreciate the significant downward departure in sentencing of 24 months in custody."
Adding, "We are thankful for Judge Chu’s thoughtful approach in her stated reasoning, as she recognized Ms. Potter’s law enforcement service and that she made a tragic mistake."
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison also released a statement saying:
"Today is a somber day.
"Today is a somber day above all because Daunte Wright is not with us.
"Daunte’s life mattered. He was a son, a father, a brother, a friend. He was a bright young man with big hopes and dreams for himself and Daunte Jr. He should have had his whole life ahead of him to turn those dreams into reality. Instead, there is a hole in the Wright family and in the life of his young son that can never be filled. Nothing and no one can restore their loss.
'I send my deepest condolences again to his mother Katie, his father [Arbuey], his son, his siblings, and everyone who loved him."
You can read Ellison's full statement here.
SENTENCING OF KIM POTTER
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