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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2:58 p.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Daunte Wright's family attorney says he did not get the consideration that he deserved

From CNN’s Claudia Dominguez

Daunte Wright's family attorney Ben Crump said they do not believe Daunte got the consideration he deserved after former police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison for his 2021 death.

“We continue to fight for equal justice under the law, it can’t just be a concept, it has to be real,” Crump told reporters. “They believe today was their son did not get the consideration that he deserved in this matter.”

Potter, a former Minnesota police officer, was convicted in December of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter for killing Wright during an April 11, 2021 traffic stop in which she mistakenly drew a gun instead of her Taser.

The Wright family, he said, was disappointed with the sentence.

“They feel very disappointed because they believe that there was no reason to have such consideration for the killer of their child,” Crump said. He compared Potter’s case to the case of a Minnesota police officer Mohamed Noor, who was sentenced to four years and nine months for fatally shooting a woman when responding to a 911 call in 2017. 

“Many in the Twin Cities believed that Mohamed Noor, a Black police officer, who was convicted of a lesser charge of manslaughter to receive a much greater sentence than this White woman who killed their son Daunte Wright,” Crump explained. 

“What we see today that is the legal system in America in Black and White,” Crump added.

Potter will be required to serve two-thirds of her sentence in prison, or 16 months, according to state law. With good behavior, she will be eligible for supervised release for the remaining third.

CNN's Dakin Andone and Brad Parks contributed reporting to this post.

2:22 p.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Minnesota attorney general urges acceptance of Kim Potter's sentence

From CNN's Brad Parks

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement Friday afternoon saying he accepts the two-year sentence that former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter received Friday for fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright in April 2021. 

“I accept her judgment. I urge everyone to accept her judgment,” Ellison said. “I don’t ask you to agree with her decision, which takes nothing away from the truth of the jury’s verdict."

"I know it is hurtful to loved ones of Daunte Wright. I ask that we remember the beauty of Daunte Wright, to keep his memory in our hearts, and to know that no number of years in prison could ever capture the wonder of this young man’s life,” he said.

Ellison had asked Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu to impose the presumptive sentence of 86 months in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday

2:24 p.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Parents of Daunte Wright say they "feel cheated" after sentencing of Kim Potter

Daunte Wright's parents, Aubrey Wright and Katie Wright, react after Kim Potter’s sentencing hearing on February 18, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Daunte Wright's parents, Aubrey Wright and Katie Wright, react after Kim Potter’s sentencing hearing on February 18, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The parents of Daunte Wright said they were "very disappointed" in the two-year sentence for Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer who fatally shot their 20-year-old son.

The Wright family had asked Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu to hand down the maximum sentence.

"To sit there and watch, pouring my heart out in my victim impact statement that took so long to write — and I reread it over and over again — to not get a response out of the judge at all. But then when it came down ... to sentencing Kim Potter, she broke out in tears," Katie Wright, Daunte Wright's mother, said about Chu appearing to get choked up at the end of the sentencing.  

"So once again, we are standing here to say that we're very disappointed in the outcome. Yes, we got a conviction, and we thank everybody for that. But again, this isn't OK. This is the problem with our justice system today, and White women tears trumps — trumps — justice. And I thought my White woman tears would be good enough because they're true and genuine," she said.

Daunte Wright's father, Aubrey Wright, said he felt "cheated" and "hurt."

"I walked out of this courthouse feeling like people are laughing at us because this lady [Potter] got a slap on the wrist, and we still every night sitting around crying, waiting on my son to come home. I'm upset," he said, getting emotional.

Here's how CNN legal analyst Areva Martin reacted to Katie Wright's emotional words:

12:42 p.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Minnesota judge appears to get emotional after Kim Potter sentencing

Judge Regina Chu.
Judge Regina Chu. (Pool)

Hennepin County, Minnesota, Judge Regina Chu seemed to get choked up after sentencing former police officer Kim Potter to two years for the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

"Of all the jobs in public service, police officers have the most difficult one. They must make snap decisions under tense evolving and ever-changing circumstances. They risk their lives every single day in public service. Officer Potter made a mistake that ended tragically," Chu said, pausing as she appeared to hold back emotion.

"She never intended to hurt anyone. Her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines," Chu said.  

The Wright family earlier asked Chu to hand down the maximum amount of time for Potter. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asked Chu to impose the presumptive sentence of 86 months, or seven years and two months, in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday.

12:39 p.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter sentenced to 2 years in fatal shooting of Daunte Wright

From CNN's Brad Parks and Dakin Andone

Kim Potter.
Kim Potter. (Pool)

Former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison by a Minnesota judge Friday for fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright while yelling "Taser" during a traffic-stop-turned-arrest on April 11, 2021. 

Potter was convicted in December of first-degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/handling of a firearm and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Wright. 

Potter is required to serve two-thirds of that time (or 16 months) of her sentence in prison. With good behavior, she will be eligible for supervised release for the other third.

The judge said there will be a fine of $1,000 and a surcharge of $78 to be taken out of prison wages or due within 180 days. She noted that Potter has the right to appeal the conviction and sentence. 

The sentence is a significant downward departure from what state sentencing guidelines recommend for someone with no prior criminal record, like Potter. The guidelines give a judge discretion to sentence convicted offenders with no criminal history roughly between 6 and 8.5 years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 86 months.  

Prior to sentencing, members of Wright's family asked the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asked Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu to impose the presumptive sentence of 86 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 had 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 did so again at her sentencing Friday.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision," Chu said before announcing the sentence. "In making my decision, I look to the purposes of incarceration. There are four: retribution, incapacitation, deterrence and rehabilitation. Three of the four would not be served in this case."

"The evidence is undisputed that officer Potter never intended to use her firearm," Chu said.

"This case is highly unusual. ... This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine-and-a-half minutes as he gasped for air," Chu said, referring to the George Floyd case.

"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," she added. "His life mattered."

The former officer took the stand and testified before the jury during the trial, breaking down in tears as she recounted the shooting, eventually apologizing and insisting she "didn't want to hurt anybody." During the emotional testimony, Potter said she remembered "yelling 'Taser, Taser, Taser,' and nothing happened, and then he told me I shot him." 

Potter has been incarcerated since her conviction at the state correctional facility in Shakopee, according to records from the Minnesota Department of Corrections. 

11:56 a.m. ET, February 18, 2022

Former officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright apologizes to family: "I am so sorry that I hurt you so badly"

Kim Potter.
Kim Potter. (Pool)

Former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter apologized to the family of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old man she fatally shot on April 21, 2021, before being sentenced in court.

"To the family of Daunte Wright, I am so sorry that I brought the death of your son, father, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew and the rest of your family, to your home," Potter said in a statement in court.

"Katie, I understand a mother's love, and I am sorry I broke your heart. My heart is broken for all of you. Earlier, when you said that I didn't look at you during the trial, I don't believe I had a right to. I didn't even have a right to be in the same room with you. I am so sorry that I hurt you so badly," she said directly to Wright's mother.

"I pray for Daunte and all of you many, many times a day. He is not more than one thought away from my heart and I have no right for that, for him to be in my heart," she continued.

"And I do pray that one day, you can find forgiveness, only because hatred is so destructive to all of us. And that I pray peace will always be with you and your family. Again, I am so sorry.  And to the community of Brooklyn Center, I owe you all an apology to you. I loved working for you and I am sorry what's happened to our community since the death of Daunte. And the men and women who work for you still are good, honorable people and will work hard for you," she said.

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.