MINNEAPOLIS — Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright at a traffic stop, was found guilty of both first and second-degree manslaughter by a Hennepin County jury Thursday.
Potter was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom following the verdict.
Potter’s defense team unsuccessfully argued that she should remain out of jail until sentencing. Hennepin County District Court Judge Regina Chu ruled that Potter should be taken into custody immediately following the verdict.
Sentencing is set for Feb. 18. Potter will face up to 15 years in prison in sentencing.
Potter is the third Twin Cities metro police officer to be convicted of manslaughter or murder since 2019. Earlier in 2021, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of second and third murder in the death of George Floyd.
In 2019, former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Justine Damond. However, his murder conviction was recently overturned by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
In her own testimony Friday, Potter said she meant to grab and use her Taser instead of her gun when she shot and killed Wright during a traffic stop on April 11.
While on the side of the road and outside of Wright’s vehicle, Potter and field officer Anthony Lucky told Wright that he had a warrant and was being arrested. Potter watched as Lucky tried to handcuff Wright, who tensed up.
“We were trying to keep him from driving away. It just went chaotic,” Potter, crying, told her defense attorney while on the stand. “I remember yelling, ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ and nothing happened. And then he told me I shot him.”
Potter cried again while state prosecutor Erin Eldridge played moments of Potter’s graphic body camera footage during cross-examination and grilled her actions. The full video shows how Potter apparently mistook her gun for a Taser and fired a deadly shot into Wright.
“You knew that deadly force was unreasonable,” Eldridge said.
“I didn’t want to hurt anybody,” Potter cried.
“You know the difference between left and right, don’t you?” Eldridge asked, before ending her cross-examination.
After her testimony, the defense rested its case and the state prosecution team declined to call any rebuttal witnesses.
Potter resigned the day after the shooting. She and her husband sold their home in the northwest metro area and no longer live in Minnesota.
Just before 2 p.m. on April 11, Brooklyn Center police officer Anthony Luckey and his field training officer, Potter, pulled over a white Buick at 63rd Avenue North and Orchard Avenue North in Brooklyn Center, according to the criminal complaint.
Luckey checked Wright’s identification and found that he had a warrant for a gross misdemeanor weapons charge. Luckey and Potter approached the driver’s side of the car and asked Wright to get out and place his hands behind his back.
Wright did so, and Luckey told him he was being arrested for his outstanding warrant, according to authorities.
While outside the car, Wright pulled away from the officers and got back into the driver’s seat of his car. Luckey struggled with Wright and tried to maintain physical control of him, investigators said.
At 2:01:49 p.m., Wright pulled away from the officers and got back into the driver’s seat of his car, with Officer Luckey trying to maintain physical control of Wright, according to the authorities.
At 2:01:55 p.m., Potter said she would tase Wright before pulling out her Glock 9mm handgun with her right hand, authorities said. She pointed it at Wright and again said she would tase him, according to investigators.
At 2:02 p.m., Potter said “Taser, Taser, Taser,” and pulled the trigger on her handgun at 2:02:01, firing one round into the left side of Wright, according to authorities.
Wright shouted “ah, he shot me,” and the car sped away for a short distance before crashing into another car. An ambulance was called and Wright died at the scene, according to investigators.
Wright died of a gunshot wound and the death was ruled a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.
After firing her gun, Potter said “expletive, I just shot him!” according to the criminal complaint.
The handgun was holstered on the right side of Potter’s duty belt and her Taser was on the left side, according to authorities.
The Taser is yellow with a black grip and is set in “straight-draw position,” meaning Potter would have to use her left hand to pull the Taser out of its holster, according to authorities.