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'She took our baby boy': Family delivers emotional impact statements at sentencing for Kim Potter

Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu sentenced the former Brooklyn Center police officer to two years in prison for the shooting death of Daunte Wright.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn — Less than two months after her convictions on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright, former police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to two years in prison.

Per Minnesota rules, at least 16 months of that sentence will be served in prison. The rest of the sentence, eight months, will be served on supervised release assuming there are no disciplinary offenses or conditional release violations. Potter already has credit for 58 days served.

Potter's sentencing hearing began at 9 a.m. in front of Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu. After prosecutor Matthew Frank spoke, five family members read victim impact statements to the court: Katie Wright, Daunte's mother, Arbuey Wright, Daunte's father, Diamond Wright, his sister, Damik Bryant, his brother, and Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Daunte's young son, Daunte Jr.

Katie Wright, visibly emotion, spoke directly to Potter. “I’ll never be able to forgive you for what you’ve stolen from us," she said.

“She took our baby boy with a single gunshot through his heart and shattered mine.”

Through tears, Whitaker express that she "is now a single mother, not by choice, by force," and that although she doesn't her son to grow up fearing or hating the police, "it's only fair that Kim Potter be sentenced to the maximum amount of time for executing's my son Daunte Jr.’s father.”

Credit: KARE 11
Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Daunte Wright's son, speaks at Kim Potter's sentencing

Multiple family members, including Daunte's mother, expressed their outrage over Kim Potter's booking photo, where she's seen smiling.

During his remarks, defense attorney Paul Engh said there was no disrespect meant with the photo, and that had prison asked Potter to smile.

Judge Chu, who presided over Potter's case, ordered the former officer into custody immediately after the guilty verdict was handed down Dec. 23, 2021. Hours later, Potter was booked into the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee, where she remains behind bars.

The Minnesota Attorney General's Office, which prosecuted Potter's case, asked the judge for the standard presumptive sentence of 86 months, or just over seven years. Potter's defense attorney Paul Engh asked for probation.

RELATED: Potter fallout: Attorneys predict more aggressive prosecution of police following verdict

The case

In the afternoon of April 11, 2021, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, was pulled over by Brooklyn Center police officers Kim Potter and Anthony Luckey for having expired tabs.

According to body camera footage and evidence later presented in court, officers had Wright exit his car and attempted to take him into custody after realizing there was a warrant out for Wright's arrest. When Wright broke free and got back into the driver's seat, a struggle ensued between him and the officers. Body camera video captured Potter yelling "Taser! Taser! Taser!" but she had actually drawn her firearm and ended up accidentally shooting Wright in the stomach.

On the body camera footage, Kim Potter can be heard immediately telling the other officers at the scene, "I just shot him."

The car, with Daunte Wright in the driver's seat, pulled away and drove for about a block before crashing into an oncoming vehicle. A woman in the car with Wright was taken to North Memorial Hospital and treated for multiple injuries. Daunte Wright's family was the first to identify him as the shooting victim.

Protests and unrest ignited in the wake of the police shooting and continued for eight straight nights following Wright's death. Hundreds of arrests were made in connection to the demonstrations, and multiple businesses were looted, burned or damaged.

RELATED: Kim Potter Trial: What you need to know

The trial

Jury selection for Potter's trial began on Nov. 30, 2021. For just the second time in state history cameras were allowed in the courtroom to broadcast a criminal trial. The first time was for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd in May 2020.

The jury panel that heard Potter's case was made up of seven men and seven women. All of the men were white, and of the women four were white, two were Asian and one was Black. All 14 jurors heard the case but only 12 deliberated the verdict; the last two jurors seated were alternates.

Opening statements in the case began Dec. 8 and the first witness called by the prosecution was Daunte Wright's mother Katie Bryant

“He had a smile that would light up a room," Bryant said of her son. While on the stand, Bryant walked through the events that led up to Wright's death. She said she heard the initial part of the attempted arrest over a cell phone before the call disconnected. Bryant did not hear the actual shooting.

Over the next two weeks, the jury heard from a myriad of additional witnesses, including Daunte Wright's girlfriend, Officer Anthony Luckey, firearms training experts and Kim Potter herself.

Potter broke into tears several times during her testimony. "I'm sorry it happened," she said. "I'm so sorry." Through tears, Potter insisted she didn't plan, or want to use deadly force.

"I didn't want to hurt anybody," she said.

The verdict

The defense rested following Potter's testimony, and jurors began deliberating on Dec. 20. It took three days for the jury to reach a unanimous verdict: guilty of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree manslaughter.

Outside the Hennepin County Courthouse, Bryant told reporters she felt "every single emotion that you could imagine running though your body at that moment" when the verdict was read. 

Daunte's father, Arbuey Wright, told supporters gathered at the courthouse that he wanted to thank Kim Potter for testifying. 

RELATED: 'Every single emotion': Wright family, others react to guilty verdict in Kim Potter trial

The trial of Kim Potter

Watch more KARE 11 coverage from the trial of Kim Potter on our YouTube playlist:

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