Kim Potter, the former cop who was convicted on two counts of manslaughter Thursday for the killing of Daunte Wright, was all smiles in her mug shot taken at prison this afternoon.
A jury in Hennepin County Court found Potter guilty after more than three days of deliberation. She was cuffed in the courtroom and taken to prison where she’ll await her Feb. 18 sentencing. The mom of two is likely to face up to 11 years behind bars.
Potter, 49, shot Wright after he tried to flee cops seeking to arrest him on a weapons warrant during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. She claimed she meant to grab her Taser not her gun, an allegation that was at the center of her December trial.
Bodycam footage shown multiple times throughout the trial shows Potter screaming “Oh my God!” and “Holy s–t! I just shot him!” after the incident. Her defense called the fatal encounter a “mistake”; the prosecution called it a “colossal screw-up” and “a blunder of epic proportions.”
Wright’s death sparked national protests that happened alongside the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
Wright, who was 20 years old at the time of his death and a father to a young child, was unarmed during the traffic stop.
Potter took the stand during her trial, at times unable to compose herself and sobbing throughout her testimony. On Thursday, though, she was stone-faced as Judge Regina Chu announced the two guilty verdicts for first- and second-degree manslaughter.
Wright’s girlfriend was in the car at the time of the fatal encounter, testifying at the trial that she frantically tried to help him from the passenger seat.
“I grabbed like whatever was in the car,” Alayna Albrecht-Payton said, fighting through tears.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I just put my hands over his chest and I just tried to hold it and just started to scream his name,” she said. “I was just trying to have him talk to me and just kept saying, Daunte, like, Daunte, can you say something, please. Talk to me.”
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said her “son had a smile that was worth a million dollars.”
“When he walked in the room, he lit up the room,” she said at his April funeral that was attended by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
“We know that this tragedy is connected to the deep and systemic racism endemic in this country,” the governor told mourners at the funeral.
Wright had recently moved from Chicago to Minneapolis before he was killed by Potter. His family said he was working retail and food service jobs to support his young son and hadn’t graduated high school.
Police moved to arrest him at the traffic stop in April 2021 after running his name and learning he had an open warrant out for his arrest. Wright had allegedly been involved in an armed robbery, had failed to appear in court, fled officers during a police encounter, and possessed a gun without a permit.
Wright’s family commended the jury for its guilty verdict, saying in a statement through their civil attorneys that they feel “relieved that the justice system has provided some measure of accountability for the senseless death of their son, brother, father and friend.”
“From the unnecessary and overreaching tragic traffic stop to the shooting that took his life, that day will remain a traumatic one for this family and yet another example for America of why we desperately need change in policing, training and protocols,” the statement said. “We must now turn our attention to ensuring that Kim Potter receives the strongest and most just sentence possible.”
Potter resigned just days after the shooting, as did former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who testified in Wright’s defense that he “saw no violation” of department policy during the deadly stop that set off national demonstrations.
Bodycam footage from Brooklyn Center, Minn., Sgt. Mychal Johnson shown at the trial depicts a distraught Potter, rocking back and forth while lying facedown on a lawn with her head in her hands and her feet in the street in the moments after she shot Wright dead.
Johnson testified that Potter made a mistake, but force was justified because he could have been dragged if Wright had hit the gas.
“Kim, we’ll get it all figured out, OK,” he was seen telling Potter on his bodycam footage as she leaned against a fence.