Potter has said she meant to use her Taser to subdue Wright when he pulled away from officers during an April traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center (Pictures: AP/ Rex/Shutterstock)
Kim Potter, the former police officer who fatally shot a black man while yelling ‘Taser’ was found guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright.
A jury came out with the guilty verdict on Thursday after deliberating for about 24 hours in the trial of Potter, who is white, for the fatal shooting of the 20-year-old black man in April.
Jurors had sent the court a note midway through deliberations asking what to do if they can’t reach a verdict.
Judge Regina Chu thanked the jurors for their services and sacrifices amid the holiday season and influx of Omicron cases throughout the country.
Following the verdict, a stoic Potter was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs after receiving pats on her shoulders from her attorneys. She remained composed while being walked out despite becoming teary and distraught when she took the witness stand during trial.
The panel of twelve jurors were tasked with deciding whether prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Potter ‘recklessly’ handled her firearm and caused Wright’s death through her ‘culpable negligence’
Potter has said she meant to use her Taser to subdue Wright when he pulled away from officers during a traffic stop in April in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, where at the time she worked as a police officer.
The 26-year veteran of the field described how the traffic stop became ‘chaotic’ when Wright returned to his car as they tried to arrest him on a warrant for a weapons violation.
Potter, 49, broke down when she took the witness stand, telling prosecutors she never intended to use deadly force: ‘I didn’t want to hurt anybody.’
She had pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter.
Prosecutors argued that the former cop acted recklessly, and disregarded over 20 years of training.
‘Just because she didn’t kill people for the first 25 years of her career does not mean that no crime occurred on April 11,’ prosecutor Erin Eldridge said during Monday’s closing arguments.
Potter’s attorneys argued that she made a mistake but also would have been within her rights to use deadly force if she had meant to because another officer was at risk of being dragged by Wright’s car.
The judge proposed that Potter be held without bail, much to the disappointment of her attorneys.
One of her attorneys pushed for bail to be issued, saying ‘her remorse and regret for the incident is overwhelming,’ and that she is not a danger to the public, and has made all her court appearances.
‘She’s been convicted of an accident. She’s been convicted of an accident,’ attorney Earl Gray said.
Prosecutors asked the judge to withhold the bail, saying it’s customary for such charges.
Judge Chu ultimately decided that Potter would be held without bail.
‘I cannot treat this case any differently than any other case,’ Chu said.
The maximum penalty for first-degree manslaughter predicated on reckless use/ handling of a firearm is 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine. Since Potter has no criminal history, Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence roughly between 6 and 8.5 years in prison.
She will appear in court for sentencing on February 18.
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