State seeks reduced sentence for ex-cop Kim Potter

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
State seeks reduced sentence for ex-cop Kim Potter

After requesting a longer prison sentence for ex-cop Kim Potter, Attorney General Keith Ellison has dropped the request in favor of state guidelines. Potter was convicted of first and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Daunte Wright.

A 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Potter claimed she mistook her gun for her taser when she shot and killed Daunte Wright following a traffic stop on April 11, 2021. The 20-year-old unarmed father died roughly a year after the police killing of George Floyd in nearby Minneapolis.

A judge is expected to issue Kim Potter’s prison sentence on Friday, according to Kare 11 News. With the state dropping the request for an “upward sentencing departure,” Potter will likely serve the “standard presumptive sentence” of 86 months, or just over seven years.

“I lost my son. He’s never coming back. I can’t accept that. A mistake? That doesn’t sound right,” Daunte Wright’s father said on Good Morning America days after the shooting. 

Holding back tears, Wright’s mother told GMA she wants to see justice served and see Kim Potter “held accountable for everything she’s taken from us.”

brooklyn center police kim potter george floyd daunte wright

Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie, eulogizes her son at his vigil, Monday, April 12, 2021, as the community responded to the police killing of 20-year-old Wright, with hundreds joining his family at the location on 63 Ave. N. in Brooklyn Center, Minn., where he was killed. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)

State now seeks “standard” sentence as defense argues for even lower sentence

The change in sentencing request came as a surprise, since AG Ellison’s office had submitted the request for a longer sentence as recently as October 2021. Citing aggravating circumstances, the previous request claimed “Defendant’s conduct caused a greater-than-normal danger to the safety of other people, as she fired into a motor vehicle in which a passenger was present and two other officers were in close proximity while the vehicle was operational on a busy public street.”

The initial request also claimed Kim Potter abused her authority as a police officer. Yet, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, AG Ellison filed a new motion, requesting a standard presumptive sentence. Meanwhile, the defense is seeking a “downward departure” in the form of a lesser sentence or probation.

It’s possible that AG Ellison, whose team prosecuted the case against Potter, may be worried that since Potter had no history of similar abuses, a judge may be turned off by the State seeking a longer sentence than the standard. Yet, with a jury already having convicted Potter of manslaughter, it’s unclear why AG Ellison wouldn’t seek as many years as possible under the law.

“If this Court should conclude that the facts of this case are sufficient to establish that Defendant Potter’s crime is less serious than the typical first-degree manslaughter, and therefore support a durational departure, the Court should impose a sentence duration between the presumptive sentence for second-degree manslaughter and first-degree manslaughter,” Tuesday’s filing read.

“To impose anything less would fail to take into account Daunte Wright’s death and the jury’s finding that Defendant Potter committed first-degree manslaughter.”

Highly trained officer wrongly killed Daunte Wright

Daunte Wright, a new father, was ultimately gunned down after Potter stopped him over supposedly expired tags. Wright wriggled out of Potter’s grip when she tried to handcuff him. Yet, bodycam footage showed he didn’t try to fight any officers. Instead, he was shot as he tried to get in his car and drive away.

Yelling taser three times, Potter shot and killed him in the presence of her peers.

Kim Potter knows her taser was bright yellow. Her handgun was black. Officers are trained to always wear their handgun on their dominant side and their taser on their weak side, according to now-former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.

​​Potter’s nearly three decades of training appears to defy the notion from moderate politicians and city leaders who claim that police need more training and more funding to properly do their jobs. 

While leaders across the country have pushed back against the Black Lives Matter-inspired “defund the police” movement, efforts like President Biden’s to give police more money and more training appear to ring hollow to those who see a never-ending pattern.

A Hennepin County Judge will issue Potter’s sentencing on Friday, Feb. 18.

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