Kim Potter sentenced to 2 years in Daunte Wright's death

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 4:41 p.m. ET, February 18, 2022
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11:48 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Daunte Wright's family asks for maximum sentence for former police officer Kim Potter

From CNN’s Claudia Dominguez

Speaking at Friday’s sentencing, Daunte Wright’s family asked that former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter get the maximum sentence for fatally shooting the 20-year-old during a traffic stop in April 2021. 

“I ask that Kim Potter be held accountable and that the maximum sentence be applied, which is incomparable to the life sentence we have been given, because of her negligence,” Arbuey Wright, Daunte’s father, said. “My son Daunte’s life was taken away, way too soon, and he’s never coming back, and it has affected my whole family.”

Wright also said that his family has not been the same since Daunte’s death. “Nothing will ever be the same, everything we do as a family ends in tears.”

Daunte’s brother, Damik Bryant, and sister, Diamond Wright, also addressed the court. Damik said that Daunte was “killed by the same people we were supposed to trust, who was supposed to serve and protect.”

“I respectfully ask the court to give a strong sentence that accounts for the severe pain and loss that our family has experienced,” Damik concluded.

Daunte’s sister Diamond also spoke to the court requesting, like her father, the maximum sentence for Potter.

“The defendant should be prosecuted and sentenced to the highest extent,” Diamond Wright said.

She poignantly told the court that while discussing the George Floyd killing, her family said that “maybe we have enough white in us to not be a threat to the police, we were wrong.”

“We have repeatedly seen that one hint of black in our skin makes us a target,” she said. 

Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Daunte’s only child, tearfully addressed the court saying that Potter had taken her son’s “best friend” from him. She said that since the incident, Daunte’s son has been “more scattered and angry,” and that Daunte will not have the chance to see his son grow. 

Whitaker says she suffers from severe PTSD after Daunte’s shooting.

“Whenever I’m pulled over, I am extremely afraid of making a mistake and something going wrong,” Whitaker said.

She also asked that Potter receive the maximum sentence.

11:06 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Mother of Daunte Wright's son: Potter "took my son's best friend away" and "things haven't been the same since"

Chyna Whitaker.
Chyna Whitaker. (Pool)

Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Daunte Wright's two-year-old son, said their child senses his father is gone.

Former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter was convicted in December of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting 20-year-old Wright and will be sentenced today.

"Kim Potter took my son's best friend away from him and things haven't been the same since. I am now a single mother, not by choice, by force," Whitaker said in her impact statement during Potter's sentencing hearing today.

She said her son will miss out on having a father for life milestones. Whenever she shows him photos and videos of Wright, his face "lights up with the biggest smile and he says 'dada.'"

"I now suffer from severe PTSD; whenever I'm pulled over, I have extreme anxiety, afraid of making a mistake and something ending up going wrong," she said, crying. "I can't watch any movies or videos that have to do with police brutality because it reminds me of Daunte being killed. I got my son a poster of his dad that I keep in his bedroom. Many times, I just find him staring at it. My son shouldn't have to wear a 'rest in peace' shirt of his dad."  

"Police are supposed to protect and serve the community. How will my son learn to trust police after what happened to his dad? I don't want my son to grow up afraid of the police or hating them. Nevertheless, it's only fair that Kim Potter be sentenced to the maximum amount of time for executing my son Daunte Jr.'s father," she said.

10:54 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

"Everything we do as a family ends in tears" since Daunte Wright was killed, his father says

Arbuey Wright.
Arbuey Wright. (Pool)

Daunte Wright's father said that former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter should get the maximum sentence for fatally shooting his son.

"Daunte's life was cut short by Kim Potter, who claims she thought she had a Taser. She pointed a gun into my son's chest, pulled the trigger, not only killing Daunte by damaging his heart to the point of unrepairable... but she also damaged my whole family's heart. Nothing will ever be the same," Arbuey Wright said at Potter's sentencing.

Everything we do as a family ends in tears, because all we have is memories left of our son. What should be happy times turns into sadness," he said, choking up. 

"Kim Potter was trained, and was trained to prevent this type of thing from ever happening. She was a police officer longer than my son was alive. I ask that Kim Potter be held accountable and that the maximum sentence be applied, which is incomparable to the life sentence we have been given because [of] her negligence. My son Daunte's life was taken away way too soon and he's never coming back. It's affected my whole family," he said.

11:28 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Wright's mother says Kim Potter "failed Daunte, our family and our community"

Katie Wright.
Katie Wright. (Pool)

Katie Wright, Daunte Wright's mother, gave an emotional speech at the sentencing hearing of Kim Potter, a former Minnesota police officer who was convicted of fatally shooting the 20-year-old.

"She referred to Daunte over and over again as the driver, as if killing him wasn't enough to dehumanize him. She never once said his name, and for that, I'll never be able to forgive you. And I'll never be able to forgive you for what you've stolen from us," Wright said.

She spoke about his life and said Potter took away his future.

"A police officer who was supposed to serve and protect someone took so much from us. She took our baby boy with a single gunshot through his heart, and she shattered mine. My life and my world will never, ever be the same," Wright said.

Wright then talked about how she spoke to her son and assured him he would be OK after he was shot.

"A police officer that took the oath to serve and protect for 26 years, but not on this day. On this day, she did not protect. She failed Daunte, our family and our community," she said.  

Wright said Potter "didn't even try" to save him.

"Your honor, I'm asking you to hold the defendant to the highest accountability, to the person of authority who portrayed her badge not only when she shot Daunte but when she rolled around on the ground crying for herself, 'I'm going to prison' ... when she should have in fact said, 'Please go save him. How is he doing? Is he OK? Please help him.' She didn't even try, your honor. She didn't try to save him. You should have done better," Wright continued.

"Your honor, I'm stuck with three questions I ask myself: How do you show remorse when you're smiling in your mugshot after being sentenced to manslaughter after taking my son's life? How do you say you're sorry with no tears? How much time is my son's life worth?" Wright continued.

See Daunte Wright's mother speak:

10:30 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Lead prosecutor: More than 7-year sentence is "appropriate given the loss of life"

Lead prosecutor Matthew Frank
Lead prosecutor Matthew Frank (Pool)

Matthew Frank, the lead prosecutor, opened today's sentencing hearing by telling a judge that the presumptive sentence for former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter "was appropriate."

Prosecutors have asked the judge to sentence Potter to more than seven years in prison for Daunte Wright's death.

"His name is Daunte Wright. We have to say his name. He was not just the driver. He was a living human being. The highest principle of law enforcement is the same sanctity of life. And his life mattered. Into that life was taken. And the law recognizes the severity of the loss of life when setting criminal penalties," Frank said in court.

"And the presumptive sentence, in this case, reflects the loss of life. As a prosecutors, we represent the interests of victims, and we represent the interests of the community. And so, the presumptive sentence here, your honor, is something that we consider appropriate given the loss of life," he continued.

Frank said the crime Potter committed "a higher state of culpability."

"The jury found the defendant guilty of this crime. This crime reflects a level of culpability that we agree is not an intentional — it wasn't an intent to kill Mr. Wright. But it was culpably negligent. It represents a higher state of culpability. For those reasons, we believe the sentence is appropriate. The presumptive sentence is appropriate," he told the judge.

10:03 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

NOW: Kim Potter's sentencing hearing has begun

From CNN's Dakin Andone and Brad Parks


The former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer convicted in the death of Daunte Wright is back in court this morning to be sentenced.

Prosecutors are seeking more than seven years in prison for Kimberly Potter, who said she mistakenly drew her gun instead of her Taser when she fatally shot Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop in April 2021. She was convicted in December of first- and second-degree manslaughter.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asked Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu to impose the presumptive sentence of 86 months, or seven years and two months, in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday. That sentence, he wrote, would reflect the "seriousness of the loss of (Wright's) life" as well as Potter's "culpability" in causing Wright's death.

Potter's attorneys have argued for a lesser sentence, pointing in their own filings to her lack of a criminal record as well as her "evident contrition." Potter had apologized to Wright's family, her attorneys wrote, and she planned to do so again at her sentencing Friday.

More context: Under Minnesota law, an offender convicted of two or more charges from the same act is sentenced on their most serious conviction. The maximum penalty for first-degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/handling of a firearm is 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine.

9:46 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Ex-officer Kim Potter was found guilty of 2 counts of manslaughter for fatally shooting Daunte Wright

From CNN's Ray Sanchez, Adrienne Broaddus and Brad Parks

Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who drew a gun instead of a Taser and fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, was found guilty on December 23, 2021, of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the Black man's death.

Potter, who is White, displayed no emotion as the verdicts were read and was ordered held without bail. One of her lawyers rested his head on his hands at the defense table.

Jurors deliberated about 27 hours since Monday, when, in closing arguments, a prosecutor described Potter's actions as a tragic blunder born of recklessness or negligence and the defense characterized the shooting as an honest mistake, not a crime.

The maximum penalty for first-degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/ handling of a firearm is 15 years in prison. Since Potter, 49, has no criminal history, Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence roughly between six and eight and a half years in prison.

The former Brooklyn Center police officer was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom. Her husband, Jeff, a former law enforcement officer, was heard yelling, "I love you, Kim," according to a pool report.

"I love you back," she said.

She was transferred to Minnesota Correctional Facility — Shakopee, about 25 miles southwest of Minneapolis, according to the state Department of Corrections.

9:20 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Video evidence was key in trial of Kim Potter

From CNN's Peter Nickeas

Body camera video of former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter fatally shooting Daunte Wright in a car during a traffic stop played a central role in her manslaughter trial.

The shooting happened in Brooklyn Center in April when Potter, 49, mistook her gun for a Taser. It also happened during the trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis.

Potter was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter for Wright's death.

Less than 24 hours after Wright's shooting, the town's police chief shared a 90-second video in what he said was an effort to be transparent. Jurors at Potter's trial in December saw new body camera video that showed a different view of Wright's encounter with police.

In the footage, Potter can be heard yelling "Taser" repeatedly before she shoots Wright, 20. After firing her handgun, she yells, "Holy sh*t! I just shot him!"

Read more about this here.

9:04 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Here's what we know about Kim Potter, the former police officer convicted of killing Daunte Wright

From CNN's Amir Vera, Peter Nickeas and Ray Sanchez

Kim Potter testifies in her trial on December 17.
Kim Potter testifies in her trial on December 17. (Pool)

The trial of Kim Potter ended Dec. 23 after a jury found the former suburban Minneapolis police officer guilty of two counts of manslaughter for the killing of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April.

Potter, who is White, fatally shot the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center after police pulled Wright over for an expired tag and a hanging air freshener. During the stop, officers learned he had an outstanding warrant and attempted to arrest him.

In the 90-second body camera video of the shooting — shared by the town's police chief less than 24 hours after the shooting — Potter can be heard yelling "Taser" repeatedly before shooting Wright. After firing her handgun, she yelled, "Holy sh*t! I just shot him!"

Potter was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter.

Here is what we know about Potter:

  • Potter was a 26-year police veteran: Potter, 49, was with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She joined the department in 1995, according to the Star Tribune. She served as the police union's president in 2019, had been on the department's negotiation team and worked as a field training officer, the Tribune reported.
  • She resigned from the department two days after the shooting: The veteran officer testified for hours at the trial and broke down in tears several times as she described the "chaotic" moments that led up to the shooting. She said she was "very distraught" and sorry for what happened. In her testimony, Potter said before Wright's killing she had never deployed her Taser or fired a handgun while on duty, and she had never had a complaint against her.
  • Her body camera video was released after the shooting: Former Police Chief Tim Gannon, who also submitted his resignation after the shooting, said at the time the portion of the released body-worn camera footage led him to believe the shooting was accidental and that Potter's actions before the shooting were consistent with the department's training on Tasers. Gannon said, "the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet." The fatal shooting appeared to be "an accidental discharge," he said.
  • Potter's attorney also represents an officer in George Floyd's death: Earl Gray, a St. Paul-based attorney, represented Potter. Gray is also the attorney for Thomas Lane, one of the four officers charged in Floyd's death. He was also a defense attorney for Jeronimo Yanez, the former St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer who was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Philando Castile. Potter was also represented by Paul Engh.

CNN's Ashley Killough and Brad Parks contributed to this report.