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Kim Potter, ex-Minnesota officer, found guilty of manslaughter in death of Daunte Wright

Potter, who is white, said she meant to use her Taser on Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, but drew her handgun by mistake and fired a fatal shot.

A Minneapolis jury on Thursday convicted former police officer Kim Potter on all charges she faced for fatally shooting Black motorist Daunte Wright this year — with a gun, not her Taser.

Potter, a former Brooklyn Center officer, showed no emotion as the Hennepin County jury found her guilty of first-degree manslaughter, meaning she improperly used “such force and violence that death of or great bodily harm to any person was reasonably foreseeable.”

She said she accidentally killed Wright by shooting him with her Glock when she meant to fire her Taser.

Jurors also found Potter guilty of second-degree manslaughter, which required a finding of only “culpable negligence” that created “unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.”

The jury — one Black person, two Asian American people and nine white people — convicted her of the lesser charge at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to jury forms read in court. It reached its verdict on the more serious charge at 11:40 a.m. Thursday, jurors said on their verdict form.

It took the sequestered panel more than 27 hours of talks since Monday afternoon to arrive at the verdicts.

Potter, 49, who faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 18.

"We have a degree of accountability for Daunte’s death," Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told reporters outside court.

"Accountability is not justice. ... Justice is beyond the reach that we have in this life for Daunte. But accountability is an important step, a critical, necessary step on the road to justice for us all,” he said.

Wright’s mother, Katie Bryant, sobbed as the verdicts were read, and Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge, the lead prosecutor, cast a quick smile at Wright’s parents.

Bryant thanked prosecutors and community supporters during the “long fight for accountability."

“The moment that we heard 'guilty' on manslaughter one, emotions — every single emotion that you could imagine — just running through your body at that moment," Bryant said.

"I kind of let out a yelp because it was built up in the anticipation of what was to come while we were waiting for the last few days," she said.

Judge Regina Chu ordered Potter to be taken into custody with her bail revoked, over the objections of defense attorneys.

Chu said Potter is looking at serious time behind bars, "and I am going to require that she be taken into custody and held without bail.”

“I cannot treat this case any differently than any other case,” she said.

Potter was not demonstrative as the verdicts were read and in the moments of courtroom argument immediately afterward, other than when she crossed herself for a brief moment.

Potter was handcuffed, and both of her attorneys put their hands on her shoulders before she was taken away.

Potter's husband, Jeff Potter, a retired police officer, loudly said: "I love you, Kim!"

"I love you," she responded.

Ellison said he felt sympathy for Potter and her family but added: "She will be able to correspond with them and sit with them no matter what happens. But the Wrights won't be able to talk to Daunte."  

Wright was shot April 11 about 10 miles from the courthouse where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was tried for the slaying of George Floyd.

Days later, Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, in the killing of Floyd, a Black man, whose death on May 25, 2020, touched off a summer of national protests calling for an end to institutional racism.

Potter’s trial was held in the same courtroom where Chauvin was tried.

In arguing for continued freedom on bail, defense attorney Earl Gray repeated Potter's insistence at trial that Wright's death was an "accident."

“She’s not going to run. She’s obviously, she’s not going to commit any more crimes," Gray told the judge. “She’s been convicted of an accident. She’s been convicted of being reckless.” 

The defense team left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

A tearful Potter testified in her own defense last week, describing a “chaotic” scene that required her to make a split-second decision.

Wright was being arrested on an outstanding weapons charge when he tried to get back into his car. Potter testified that she feared for the safety of another officer, Sgt. Mychal Johnson, who was struggling with Wright from the passenger side.

Police bodycam video of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter reacting after a traffic stop in which Daunte Wright was shot on April 11.Court TV / via AP Pool

Potter holstered her Glock on her right, dominant side and her Taser on the left.

The prosecution played video from Potter’s body camera for jurors, showing how she had the Glock in her hand for at least five seconds before she fired the deadly round.

The Glock used to kill Wright weighed 2.11 pounds, compared to the 0.94-pound Taser, which emanates light and needed a safety switch to be pulled before it could be used, prosecutors said.