On December 23, former Minneapolis police officer Kimberly Potter was found guilty of first and second-degree manslaughter in the April death of a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright.
Potter claimed she meant to shoot Wright with a Taser when an altercation broke out but mistakenly used her gun. A predominately white jury deliberated 27 hours before announcing a verdict. Sentencing guidelines place Potter in prison for 11 years or more.
Wright's death took place in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 11, 2021, just 10 miles from Derek Chauvin's trial for killing George Floyd.
Outstanding Arrest Warrant
Wright was pulled over for expired vehicle registration tags and an illegal air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. Police then determined that Wright had an outstanding arrest warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons violation.
As Wright struggled with an officer trying to handcuff him, Potter drew her gun. She threatened to "tase" him twice before firing a fatal shot.
I Killed a Boy
Police body camera footage reveals that Potter uttered an expletive after realizing she had shot Wright with her gun. She yelled that she grabbed the wrong $%^&* gun and shot him.
She then says, "I am going to prison. I killed a boy." Potter resigned from the police department the following day.
In court testimony, Potter said she did not realize she had used the gun instead of the Taser until she heard Wright cry out that he was shot.
With a bullet in his chest, Wright drove a short distance down the street until his car crashed. Responders pronounced him dead at the scene.
While her defense lawyers argued that Potter made a mistake, the prosecutor told the jury there is no "mistake" defense. The prosecution argued that Potter, a 26-year police veteran, violated training and was reckless in her decision to use a weapon at all.
Prosecutors did note that they did not believe Potter intended to kill Wright, but said her recklessness led to his death and endangered other officers at the scene.
A Call to His Mother
Wright called his mother, Katie, as he was being pulled over. She later said he sounded nervous as he told her the police had just stopped him. She heard fear in his voice and tried to comfort him, she said.
Her son told her the stop had something to do with the air fresheners on the rearview mirror. Katie Wright told him to take them down and asked to speak to the officers. She then heard scuffling and screaming.
When the call went dead, she feared her son might have become another Black victim of police brutality in the U.S. Unfortunately, her instincts were right.
In another eerie coincidence, George Floyd's girlfriend, Courtney Ross, was one of Wright's former teachers.
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