MINNEAPOLIS — Jurors on Thursday found former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter guilty of two counts of manslaughter in the April shooting death of Daunte Wright, 20.
Update 3:35 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said she felt “every single emotion that you can imagine” running through her body the moment she heard the jury had returned guilty verdicts for Potter in the shooting death of her son.
“I kind of let out a yelp because it was built up in the anticipation of what was to come and why we were waiting for the last few days, and now we’ve been able to process it,” she said. “We want to thank the entire prosecution team, we want to thank community support – everybody that’s been out there that has supported us in this long count for accountability.”
Update 3:30 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Thursday thanked jurors, prosecutors, witnesses and others who participated in the investigation into April’s shooting and Potter’s trial after jurors found the former officer guilty on two counts of manslaughter.
He said the verdict provided accountability for Wright’s death.
“Accountability is not justice,” he said. “Justice is restoration. Justice would be restoring Daunte to life and making the Wright family whole again. Justice is beyond the reach that we have in this life for Daunte. But accountability is an important step – a critical, necessary step in the road to justice for us all.”
Update 3:05 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Attorneys representing Wright’s family said Thursday in a statement that family members were “relieved that the justice system has provided some measure of accountability for the senseless death of their son, brother, father and friend.”
“From the unnecessary and overreaching tragic traffic stop to the shooting that took his life, that day will remain a traumatic one for this family and yet another example for America of why we desperately need change in policing, training and protocols,” said the statement released by civil rights attorneys Ben Crump, Antonio Romanucci and Jeff Storms.
“We must now turn our attention to ensuring that Kim Potter receives the strongest and most just sentence possible.”
Update 2:55 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Potter will face sentencing Feb. 18.
She could face a seven-year sentence for first-degree manslaughter, The Associated Press reported, although prosecutors have said they plan to seek a higher sentence.
Potter was escorted from the courtroom in handcuffs Thursday afternoon after jurors handed down guilty verdicts on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter.
She will remain in custody until sentencing, Judge Regina Chu ruled earlier.
Update 2:50 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Judge Regina Chu ordered Potter be held without bail after jurors on Thursday found her guilty of first- and second-degree murder in Wright’s death.
Prosecutors had asked that she be held without bond, noting the seriousness of the charges and the fact that she has apparently been living out of state recently. Defense attorneys argued that she was not a risk to the community or likely to flee.
Chu said she understood arguments made by defense attorneys. However, she added, “I cannot treat this case any differently than any other case.”
Update 2:45 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Attorneys for Potter argued against detaining the former officer until her sentencing, noting that she has appeared for all of her court appearances and saying that she poses no threat to the community.
“She’s not going to run,” lawyer Earl Gray said. “She’s obviously not going to commit any more crimes. She’s been convicted of an accident. She’s been convicted of being reckless.”
Update 2:40 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Jurors reached their guilty verdict on one count of first-degree manslaughter while committing a misdemeanor at 11:40 a.m. Thursday, Judge Regina Chu said while reading the verdict in court.
Two days earlier, at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, jurors had agreed that Potter was guilty of second-degree manslaughter, culpable negligence.
Update 2:33 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Jurors found Potter guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter in Wright’s death.
Update 2:32 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Jurors on Thursday found Potter guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the April shooting death of Wright.
Update 2:30 p.m. EST Dec. 23: Potter appeared in court Thursday afternoon ahead of a reading of the outcome in her trial.
Potter faces one count each of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the April shooting death of Wright. She testified that she thought she was using her Taser when she instead shot and killed the 20-year-old.
Original report: It was not immediately clear whether jurors had reached a verdict. On Tuesday, jurors asked Judge Regina Chu how long they had to deliberate if they found they could not reach a consensus on a verdict, KARE reported.
The trial outcome is expected to be read in court between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. CST, according to The Associated Press.
Jurors began deliberations Monday after hearing from 33 witnesses over eight days of testimony, CNN reported. Potter was among those to testify last week, telling jurors that she “didn’t want to hurt anybody” on April 11, when she shot and killed Wright.
“I’m sorry it happened,” she said through tears Friday. “I’m so sorry.”
She testified that she believed she had grabbed her Taser when she had actually grabbed her gun during the deadly encounter. Body camera footage showed her yelling “Taser” repeatedly before she fired at Wright.
Prosecution witnesses argued in court that use of force, whether that be the deployment of a Taser or a gun, was unnecessary in April. Former police Officer Seth Stoughton said on the stand that “a reasonable officer in Officer Potter’s position would not have concluded that there was an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm, and thus the use of force was excessive,” WCCO-TV reported.
Potter said she was trying to keep Wright, who was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant, from leaving after pulling him over on April 11.
Defense witnesses testified that Potter acted in line with police department policy and the law. Stephen Ijames said in court that another officer – Sgt. Mychal Johnson – was partially inside the vehicle at the time of the incident and could have been dragged if the vehicle had been put into drive, putting his life at risk, the Star Tribune reported. Last week, Johnson testified that he was holding onto the inside of the vehicle and that both of his feet were on the ground outside before the deadly shooting, KSTP reported.
If convicted of the most serious charge against her, Potter could face a sentence of about seven years, although prosecutors have said they plan to seek a higher sentence, according to the AP.
Check back for more on this developing story.
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