After more than three days of deliberations, a jury has found former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter guilty in 20-year-old Daunte Wright's April 11 death.
The jury on Thursday found Potter, 49, guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Wright. Potter, who is white, shot Wright, who is Black, during a traffic stop after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser.
His death came amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd's killing and led to days of tense protests and civil unrest.
The guilty verdict comes after the jury on Tuesday asked what they should do if they cannot reach a consensus, signaling the six-man and six-woman jury could be deadlocked. Hennepin County District Judge Regina Chu, while reading the verdicts Thursday, said the jurors reached a decision on the second-degree manslaughter charges around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. It wasn't until 11:40 a.m. Thursday morning the decision on the first-degree charge came.
Potter will be taken into custody and held without bail until sentencing. Her defense attorney pushed back on a mid-January date due to the severity of the sentencing, he said, as well as delayed, pending trials. He argued she should be released on bail until sentencing.
"Her remorse, regret for the incident is overwhelming," her attorney said, arguing she is not a danger to the public.
Chu, however, said she cannot treat this case any differently than other manslaughter cases, and that she is ordering Potter to be taken into custody. Sentencing is set for Feb. 18.
On April 11, Wright was pulled over for what police say was an expired license tabs violation. During the stop, officers learned of an outstanding warrant for missing a court date for a weapons charge. Police said he got back into his vehicle as an officer tried to arrest him, at which point Potter pulled out a weapon and — moments after yelling "Taser! Taser!" — shot Wright.
Prosecutors said Wright's death was preventable and accused Potter, a 26-year veteran officer, of a "blunder of epic proportions" when she shot Wright, arguing making a mistake isn't a legitimate defense and she should have known better to grab her gun when she intended to grab her Taser, which was on the opposite side of her body.
"Accidents can still be crimes if they occur as a result of recklessness or culpable negligence," prosecutor Erin Eldridge said. She added that when Potter failed to realize she was holding her gun and not her Taser "establishes her recklessness."
Potter's lawyer said Potter made a mistake by firing her gun instead of using her Taser but argued she was justified in her actions. Attorney Earl Gray said Wright was to blame for the incident because he tried to flee from police, and Potter testified that she mistakenly grabbed her gun because the incident was chaotic.
"We were trying to keep [Wright] from driving away. It just, it just went chaotic," Potter testified.
Potter's trial began on Dec. 8 and jurors began deliberating the afternoon of Monday, Dec. 20. They were sequestered during deliberations.
The jury was made up of six men and six women. Nine are white, two are Asian women and one is a Black woman. Four of the jurors are in their 40s, three are in their 20s, two are in their 60s, two are in their 50s and one is in her 30s.