The former Minneapolis police officer who killed a man she meant to Tase received a two-year prison sentence Friday.
“On the one hand, a young man was killed and on the other, a respected 26-year veteran police officer made a tragic error by pulling her handgun instead of her Taser,” Judge Chu said, according to the local ABC News affiliate. She noted Potter was acting doing her job in attempting to lawfully arrest Wright when she claimed to have mistaken her gun for her Taser.
“This is one of the saddest cases I’ve had on my 20 years on the bench,” the judged said during sentencing.
Wright was killed after Brooklyn Center officers stopped him for allegedly driving with an expired license and for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. Wright’s death sparked several days of demonstrations outside the police precinct. The protests were marked by tear gas and clashes between protesters and police.
Potter was convicted of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the April 11 homicide of Wright, in December 2021. She was sentenced only on the most serious charge of first-degree manslaughter.
The victim’s mother expressed anger with the sentence Potter received for her son’s death.
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said Potter murdered her son. “Today, the justice system murdered him all over again.”
Wright said before sentencing began that she could never forgive Potter and would only refer to her as “the defendant” because Potter called her son “the driver” during her trial.
“She never once said his name,” Wright bemoaned. “And, for that, I’ll never be able to forgive [Potter].”
“A police officer — who was supposed to serve and protect — took so much away from us,” she added. “My life and my world will never ever be the same again.”
According to a report in the Daily Wire, the maximum sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years but state sentencing guidelines generally reduce the sentence to an average of seven years. So, the two years sentence conferred by Chu leaned towards leniency.
Attorney Ben Crump said the family does not understand why such consideration was given to a White officer convicted of killing a young Black man when a Black officer, Mohamed Noor, was given a longer sentence for his fatal shooting of White woman Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
“What we see today is the legal system in Black and white.”
Chu explained the cases are different.
“This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for 9 1/2 minutes as he gasped for air,” the judge noted. “This is not a cop found guilty of manslaughter for intentionally drawing his firearm and shooting across his partner and killing an unarmed woman who approached his squad.”
“This is a cop who made a tragic mistake.”
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