The sentencing of former Brooklyn Center officer Kimberly Potter to two years in prison for the manslaughter of Daunte Wright sparked unhappy scenes and confrontations in the aftermath at Hennepin County Government Center.
With Wright's family deeply unhappy with what they see as a lenient sentence, angry scenes unfolded in the government building, which culminated with Daunte Wright's sister Diamond Wright and at least one other person reportedly being handcuffed and taken away from the courthouse around noon on Friday, according to WCCO.
It's unclear what led to the incident.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jeremy Zoss told Bring Me The News that county security responded to a report of an assault at the government center at about 11:50 p.m. on Friday and two people were "detained."
The sheriff's office is investigating and the case will be referred to the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office for possible charging, Zoss said.
WCCO's David Schuman also captured a confrontation between Wright supporters and Potter supporters after the hearing.
These incidents came after Wright's family held a news conference not long after Potter was sentenced.
“Kim Potter murdered my son and he died April 11,” Katie Wright, Daunte Wright's mom, said after the sentencing hearing. “Today the justice system murdered him all over again."
Noting how Potter shed tears during her testimony, Katie Wright said: "White women’s tears trumped justice.”
Daunte's father Arbuey Wright said Potter being sentenced to two years in prison is a "slap on the wrist."
Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu sentenced Potter to 24 months, of which she'll serve about two-thirds of the sentence behind bars followed by supervised release. A jury in December convicted Potter of first- and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Wright during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021.
"This is one of the saddest cases I've had in my 20 years on the bench," Chu said Friday, adding that it's the case of a "cop who made a tragic mistake" when she pulled her gun instead of her Taser.
Prosecutors sought a sentence of more than seven years in prison for Potter.
The Wright family's attorneys, including Ben Crump, said the sentencing has left the family "completely stunned."
"While there is a small sense of justice because she will serve nominal time, the family is also deeply disappointed there was not a greater level of accountability," the attorneys statement said.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association in a statement said it appreciates the judge's "significant downward departure" in her sentencing of Potter, adding "We are thankful for Judge Chu's thoughtful approach in her stated reasoning, as she recognized Ms. Potter's law enforcement service and that she made a tragic mistake."
The association did note that it disagreed with Potter's guilty verdict.
AG Ellison comments on sentencing
Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted Potter, was expected to hold a news conference after the sentencing hearing but instead released a long statement, which said in part that he accepts Chu's judgment and urges everyone to do the same.
"I don’t ask you to agree with her decision, which takes nothing away from the truth of the jury’s verdict. I know it is hurtful to [the] loved ones of Daunte Wright," Ellison said. "I ask that we remember the beauty of Daunte Wright, to keep his memory in our hearts, and to know that no number of years in prison could ever capture the wonder of this young man’s life."
Ellison noted that this is not cause for celebration because no one won — Daunte Wright is dead. Going forward, Ellison says "we can try to understand. We can change policy, and we can work together."
"Can we come together to fix weapons confusion and prevent more deaths? I hope the jury’s guilty verdict will help. But there is so much more to do," Ellison said. "Everyone has a role to play in ending it: police officers, departments, manufacturers. Perhaps someday, Kim Potter might also be part of the solution."
The attorney general noted that Potter could make a "powerful contribution" to policing and weapons confusion, adding: "It will be up to her to show that she can do this with true remorse and make true amends. I hope she can."
"For the State’s part, we will continue our pursuit of equal justice. No one is above the law, and no one is beneath it. Accountability is the first step on the road to justice.
"But justice is more than accountability. It is also compassion, mercy, and healing, both individual and generational. Healing allows us to see the humanity in each one of us — everyone included, no exceptions.
"In the end, when great tragedy strikes, we must find the courage to carry on. We must continue to tell the truth and try to make a better, more just world than we have now. The work of justice continues."