The Sentencing of Former Officer Kim Potter Who Shot Daunte Wright

Daunte Wright, at left, and former police officer Kim Potter | CREDIT: BRUCE BISPING/STAR TRIBUNE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Ariana Warner

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Kim Potter, who mistakenly drew her gun instead of her taser and fatally shot a young black man, was recently sentenced to two years in prison. 

Daunte Wright, a 21 year old Black male, was shot and killed by Kim Potter during a traffic stop in an attempted arrest for an active warrant he had. Wright was pulled over after officers noticed expired tabs on his license plate as well as an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror. Officers then discovered an active warrant for Daunte’s arrest, involving a gun charge. They then decided to arrest him, but that didn’t go as planned.

Bodycam footage shows Daunte being cooperative with police at first, but when he was handcuffed, he pulled away from officers and got back inside his vehicle. In the turn of events that took place in just seconds, you can hear Potter yell “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before shooting Wright in his chest. Immediately after the shooting, she appeared shocked and said, “I grabbed the wrong ******* gun.” Daunte drove off a short distance, when his vehicle collided with other vehicles. After failing to revive him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Moments before Wright was shot, he called his mother during the stop. This was, unfortunately, the last time she ever talked to her son. Katie Wright said her son called her for insurance information, but in the background she could hear a struggle between Daunte and the officers. Katie told CNN, “The police officer asked him to hang up the phone. Three or four seconds went by. I tried calling back to back to back because I didn’t know what was going on.” Her first instinct was her son was getting arrested, but as she grew to worry she saw it was much worse than that. As she called back, a woman answered the phone. She further went on to say, “When I called back, the girl that he had in the car answered the phone, and it was on FaceTime. And she was crying and screaming and said that they shot him. And then she pointed the phone towards the driver’s seat and my son was laying there, unresponsive. That was the last time that I saw my son.”

Just days after the shooting, Kim resigned from the police force. In a letter she sent to city officials she stated she was resigning immediately, also saying, ““I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department and my fellow officers if I resign immediately.”  Months after Daunte’s tragic passing, Potter was found guilty of first and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Wright. As the verdict was read, Potter appeared not to react, and was later handcuffed and taken into custody pending sentencing. Prosecutors argued for Kim to serve a seven year sentence, but the prosecution didn’t succeed. Two months after Kim was convicted of manslaughter, she was sentenced to two years in prison. She will serve two-thirds of her sentence, a year and four months in prison, and if she behaves she will be released on supervised release.

Wright’s family was not happy about the sentencing, and were in fact, completely stunned. Not only did they lose their child in a senseless act, but there was a sense of disappointment in the fact there was not a greater level of accountability. Just shortly before she was sentenced, Potter tearfully apologized to the family and stated, “I am so sorry that I brought the death of your son, father, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, and the rest of your family,” adding, “I’m sorry I broke your heart.” The tears and apology didn’t get through to the family of Daunte Wright, and made them more determined to get justice. Wright’s parents, siblings, and the mother of his son stood at the podium in court begging the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence on Potter. The mother of Daunte’s one year old son, Chyna Whitaker, said in her own statement that Kim took away her son’s best-friend. She also added how the two year-old doesn’t quite understand the sense of death, but when shown videos of his father’s voice or pictures, he tends to smile. 

Daunte Wright may have left this earth physically, but his name will always be remembered, and his family will continue to fight for the justice they deeply deserve.