A Minnesota judge has sentenced Kim Potter, the former police officer convicted of killing a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright. The community is outraged at what some consider a light punishment for taking a life.
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu issued the sentence of 24 months on Friday, Feb. 18, to Potter, a former police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. With this sentencing, the 49-year-old will serve 16 months in a prison facility and the remaining ten months on supervised release.
Chu’s decision came after Wright’s relatives requested that Potter receive a long sentence for the murder of their loved one. The victim’s mother, Katie Bryant, said, “I’m asking you to hold the defendant to the highest accountability.”
Earlier in the week, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office also requested that Potter receive a longer sentence, asking for Chu to give her over seven years in prison for her manslaughter conviction.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid was floored by the sentencing, saying she thought the judge wouldn’t make her spend any time incarcerated.
“Kim Potter sentenced to 2 years for killing Daunte Wright. And the judge is giving her all the sympathy in the world,” she tweeted. “It really sounded like she was about to give her probation. But this is barely more than that…”
“And not even two full years. 16 months plus credit for time served, and a paltry $1,000 fine. The judge sounds like she is about to cry, not for Daunte Wright and his family, but for Kim Potter. Wow,” she wrote before saying she needed a mental health break.
Daunte’s mother felt the same way.
She stated at a press conference held after the sentencing that Potter “murdered my son” and that “today the justice system murdered him all over again.”
“To sit there and watch my victim impact statement that took so long to write (I rewrote it over and over again), and not get a response from the judge at all,” the mother said. “But when it came down to sentencing Kim Potter, she broke out in tears. We are standing here to say that we are very disappointed in the outcome.”
“White women’s tears trump justice. I thought my white woman’s tears would be good enough” she concluded.
Daunte’s father Arbuey also spoke saying that he felt cheated by the sentence.
“I feel hurt. I am very upset that my son’s life was taken and it seems to me that nobody even cared,” he communicated as he tried to hold back his tears. “They were so tied into her feelings … they forgot about my son being killed.”
Daunte Wright was fatally shot by Potter on April 11, 2021, during a traffic stop. The former officer confused her firearm for her taser and killed the young man as he attempted to flee her custody. She was convicted in December of 2021 of first-degree manslaughter, a crime Wright’s mother said she would never forgive.
According to the Department of Corrections records, where Potter is seen smiling in her mugshot, the woman has already served 58 days behind bars. The system will credit this to her sentencing, and with time served she may be free by April 24, 2023.
Chu stated that she knew her ruling would not be popular, noting that Potter did not intentionally shoot the young man with her gun, reported NBC News.
She said, “I recognize there will be those who disagree with the sentence; that I granted a significant downward departure does not in any way diminish Daunte Wright’s life.” A tearful Chu also called the case “the saddest case in my 20 years on the bench.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison agreed that the young man’s life mattered. He released a statement urging people to accept the judge’s decision even if they don’t agree with it.
“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,” he wrote in part.
Ellison continued, “I urge everyone to accept her judgment. I don’t ask you to agree with her decision, which takes nothing away from the truth of the jury’s verdict.”
“There is no cause for celebration: no one has won.”
More news from our partners: