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Ex-Cop Who Mistook Gun For Taser And Fatally Shot Daunte Wright Released From Prison

By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone

Shakopee, MN – The former Brooklyn Center police officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright after mistaking her gun for her Taser in 2021 has been released from prison.

Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, 50, served 16 months at the Shakopee Minnesota Correctional Facility, FOX News reported.

She was released from prison early Monday morning without Wright family members or protesters present, according to the Star Tribune.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of Ms. Potter, [Department of Corrections] staff and the security of the correctional facility, the DOC commissioner [Paul Schnell] directed that she be released at 4 a.m.,” Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesperson Andy Skoogman said in a statement.

The predawn release was arranged after DOC analysts monitoring intelligence information in the days leading up to the ex-cop’s release determined there was an “elevated concern for Ms. Potter’s safety, including threatening comments directed at her and the potential for violent protests outside the Shakopee correctional facility,” Skoogman noted.

DOC officials therefore opted to release Potter “at a time we felt was safest for her and for everyone at the correctional facility,” he said, according to the Star Tribune.

The 26-year law enforcement veteran will now serve another eight months on supervised release, FOX News reported.

Potter will be residing in Wisconsin, according to the Star Tribune.

Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu sentenced Potter to the DOC for 24 months in February of 2022.

She was mandated to serve at least two-thirds of her sentence behind bars and was given credit for 58 days already served.

Prosecutors argued that although Potter didn’t intend to kill Wright, she was still “culpably negligent” and deserved to be sentenced in accordance with the presumptive guidelines of 74 to 103 months in prison.

“We don’t doubt that Ms. Potter has remorse, but this is… a courtroom full of pain and anger,” the prosecution said. “How do we fix that? What can we do? This is a divided community. What can be done to help restore some of the faith and trust between law enforcement and the community? What can be done to help the Wright family through their pain and their loss?”

“Remorse alone is not enough,” he added. “We should expect defendants to have remorse.”

Potter’s defense attorney acknowledged Wright’s death is “beyond tragic for everybody involved.”

He praised the Probation Office’s thorough pre-sentence investigation report, both bad and good, and noted the investigator found Potter is amenable to probation.

“This was an unintentional crime. It was an accident. It was a mistake,” defense said.

Potter’s attorney further noted that the frequency of departure from the sentencing guidelines is very high.

In fact, 60 percent of female offenders in the State of Minnesota are not sentenced in accordance with the presumptive guidelines.

There is no risk of recidivism in Potter’s case because she will never be able to work as a law enforcement officer again, her attorney said.

Potter’s attorney further noted she has a massive support system, not only from her family but also evidenced by the boxes of letters and cards people from all over the nation have sent her since the fatal shooting.

Wright’s aggressiveness during the incident also qualified as a mitigating factor, defense lawyers added.

Five of Wright’s family members addressed the court prior to Potter’s sentence being handed down.

Several asked the judge to sentence her to the maximum penalty allowed by law.

“I’ll never be able to forgive you for what you’ve stolen from us,” Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told the court. “We can’t afford for the defendant to make any more mistakes…You should have done better.”

She further accused Potter of displaying “entitlement and privilege” throughout her trial.

“She never once looked at us,” Katie Wright said, adding that she will continue to fight for her son until “driving while black is no longer a death sentence.”

Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Wright’s two-year-old son, said Potter “executed” her child’s father and left her with “severe PTSD.”

Wright’s sister, Diamond Wright, told the court the shooting was racially motivated.

“One hint of black in our skin makes us a target,” she declared.

Potter tearfully apologized to the Wright family during the sentencing hearing, and spoke directly to his mother at one point.

“My heart is broken for all of you,” she said.

Chu said the situation was one of the saddest she’d heard during her 20 years on the bench.

Chu noted that the sole purpose of a prison sentence for Potter would be retribution and that sentencing guidelines are not mandatory.

“She drew her firearm thinking it was a Taser and ended up killing a young man,” Chu said. “Her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines.”

A jury convicted Potter of first-degree and second-degree manslaughter on Dec. 23, 2021.

Potter faced a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine on the first-degree manslaughter conviction, according to CNN.

The incident occurred on April 11, 2021, when then-Officer Potter and a rookie officer she was training made a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Wright for expired tabs and an air freshener illegally blocking the driver’s view.

Bodycam video of the incident showed that Wright resisted arrest and jumped back into his car as if to flee when officers told him he had a warrant and tried to arrest him.

The video released by the Brooklyn Center Police Department showed Officer Potter yelled, “Taser! Taser! Taser!” before she discharged her weapon at Wright.

The video showed the officer realized she had shot Wright when he told her so.

Wright died at the scene.

Bodycam video shown at trial demonstrated that Officer Potter immediately felt remorse for her error and fellow officers were concerned that the veteran officer might try to harm herself in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot immediately called for Officer Potter to be fired in the wake of the shooting as protests immediately began to ramp up, Bring Me The News reported.

The city’s manager, Curt Boganey, pointed out that Officer Potter had rights and said the city couldn’t just terminate her employment.

“Employees are entitled to due process,” Boganey said.

Elliot responded by firing him.

His firing came shortly after the Brooklyn Center City Council voted 3-2 to pull “command authority” of the BCPD from the city manager and to place it under the control of Elliot, according to Bring Me The News.

Officer Potter was placed on “standard administrative leave” as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings but then immediately submitted her resignation.

Now-former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon testified at Potter’s trial that he resigned the same day because he refused to fire her.

Potter first became licensed as a Minnesota law enforcement officer in 1995, when she was 22 years old, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

In addition to serving on the department’s negotiation team and being a member of the Law Enforcement Memorial Association, now-former Officer Potter also served as president of the local police union, according to the paper.

She is married to a former Fridley police officer and has two adult sons, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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