Former Minneapolis Officer Kim Potter Found Guilty on Manslaughter Charges

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
December 23, 2021 Updated: December 23, 2021

A jury found Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who said she mistakenly thought her gun was a Taser, guilty on two manslaughter counts on Wednesday.

Potter, a former Brooklyn Center police officer, pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree manslaughter charges in connection to the death of Daunte Wright, which sparked protests and violent riots earlier this year. Potter said she mistakenly took her pistol for a Taser when she shot Wright in April.

The jury, comprised of six men and six women, spent over 26 hours deliberating before rendering the decision.

Potter, 49, will face a sentence of about seven years under state guidelines, though prosecutors have said they will seek more.

During closing arguments, prosecutors accused Potter of a “blunder of epic proportions” in Wright’s death in an April 11 traffic stop—but said a mistake was no defense.

But the former officer’s attorneys countered that Wright, who was attempting to get away from officers as they sought to handcuff him for an outstanding warrant on a weapons charge, “caused the whole incident.”

Potter, who was not able to compose herself, last week took to the stand and testified that she “didn’t want to hurt anybody” and that she was “sorry it happened.”

This week, speculation emerged that the jury may be deadlocked after jurors asked Judge Regina Chu about reaching a consensus.

Daunte Wright Officer Trial
A mourner holds a program for the funeral services of Daunte Wright at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis on April 22, 2021. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

Bodycamera footage of the shooting was shown several times throughout the trial, showing Potter, who sounded distraught. “Oh my God!” Potter later cried as another officer consoled her. “Holy [expletive], I just shot him,” she’s heard yelling.

The footage also showed Potter yelling “Taser” repeatedly before she shot Wright during the traffic stop.

Potter’s defense lawyer, Earl Gray, told jurors that Potter had a clean record, was a “good cop,” and is a “law-abiding person.”

“She made a mistake, and, my gosh, a mistake is not a crime,” Gray told jurors, according to live footage of the trial.

Prosecutor Erin Eldridge argued that Wright, who was accused of robbing a woman at gunpoint in a prior case, wasn’t armed during the encounter and “posed no threat to those officers.”

“We’re here because this was entirely preventable, totally avoidable,” Eldridge said, adding Potter’s life was not at risk.

Wright’s estate is facing three posthumous lawsuits alleging belligerent criminal behavior, including two from young men who alleged Wright victimized them in various ways. The woman who claimed Wright robbed her also filed a lawsuit against his estate.

“Everybody feels so horrible for this man, but no one takes the time to see how horrible of a person he was,” the woman, who was not named, told Fox News in an interview on Dec. 8.

Previously, the trial judge said for first-degree manslaughter, prosecutors must prove that Potter caused Wright’s death while committing the crime of reckless handling of a firearm.

This means they must prove that she committed a conscious or intentional act while handling or using a firearm that creates a substantial or unjustifiable risk that she was aware of and disregarded, and that she endangered safety. For second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors must prove she acted with culpable negligence, meaning she consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.