Saturday, January 29, 2022

Jury finds ex-officer guilty in Dante Wright’s murder

A suburban Minneapolis police officer who said he confused his handgun for his Taser was convicted of manslaughter in Don’t Wright’s death on Thursday, bringing the young black man’s parents to tears and the courthouse A joyous celebration was held outside by supporters who chanted “guilty, guilty”. Guilty!”

A mostly white jury deliberated for nearly 27 hours over four days before finding former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter guilty of first-degree and second-degree murder. Potter, 49, faces nearly seven years in prison under state sentencing guidelines, but prosecutors said they would seek a longer term.

Judge Regina Chu ordered Potter into custody and held without bail pending sentencing on February 18. Potter was freed on a $100,000 bond posted last April, which was charged three days after Wright was killed and one day after he left. Police Force.

As she was taken away in handcuffs, a member of the Potters’ family in the courtroom shouted “Love you, Kim!” Potter’s lawyers left the courthouse without comment and did not immediately respond to phone messages or emails.

Outside the courtroom, dozens of people cheered, hugged and burst into joy as the verdict was read. A New Orleans-style jazz band played “When the Saints Come Marching In”. The two men jumped up and down holding each other’s shoulders, and then the others jumped up and down and chanted “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” started chanting.

They chanted “Say his name! Dante Wright!” Some had yellow signs that said “guilty” in capital letters.

Potter, who testified that she “didn’t want to hurt anyone,” looked down on her with no apparent reaction when the judgments were read. As Chu thanked the jury, Potter made the sign of the cross.

Potter’s lawyers argued that she should be allowed to remain free until the sentencing, saying she was not going to commit another crime or go anywhere.

“It’s the Christmas holiday season,” argued Potter attorney Paul Ang. “He is a devoted Catholic, no less, and there is no point in imprisoning him at this time.”

Chu dismissed their arguments, however, saying that she “cannot treat this case as separate from any other case.”

The potter, who didn’t smile in court, had a big smile on his face in a mug shot when he was processed at the women’s prison after the trial.

After Potter is escorted from the courtroom, prosecutor Erin Aldridge exchanges a teary-eyed Katie Bryant, Wright’s mother and frequent presence at trial, and a long hug with Wright’s father. Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office handled the prosecution, also hugged with the parents.

It was the second high-profile conviction of a police officer won this year by an Ellison-led team that included some of the same lawyers who convicted Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd death case eight months ago in the same courtroom. Helped to settle.

Later outside the courthouse, Ellison said the verdict brought a measure of accountability to Potter but fell short of justice.

“Justice must bring Deonte back to life and make the Wright family whole again,” Ellison said. “Justice is beyond the reach we have for Daunte in this life. But accountability is an important step, an important necessary step on the road to justice for all of us.”

Ellison said he has sympathy for Potter, who has been convicted of a serious crime from a “respected member of the community.”

Wright’s mother hugged Alison, saying the verdict “aroused every single emotion you can imagine.”

“We’ve got accountability today and that’s what we’ve been asking for from the beginning,” said Katie Bryant, who credited supporters for keeping the pressure up.

“We love you, we appreciate you, and honestly, we couldn’t have done this without you,” she said.

The time-stamp on the verdict showed jurors agreed on a second count on Tuesday, before asking the judge that afternoon what to do if they were having difficulty agreeing. The guilty verdict on the more serious first-degree count came at 11:40 a.m. Thursday.

Potter, who is white, shot and killed 20-year-old Wright during a traffic stop on April 11 in Brooklyn Center, as he and other officers were trying to arrest him on an outstanding warrant for a weapon charge. . The shooting took place at a time of high tension in the area, with Chauvin being tried in nearby Minneapolis for Floyd’s death.

Jury members watched video of the shooting from police body cameras and dashboards. As Wright pulled her over, while another officer attempted to handcuff her, Potter repeatedly said that she would stab him before he pulled out his handgun and shot him once in the chest.

“(Controversial)! I just shot him. … I grabbed the wrong (outrageous) gun,” Potter said on the video shown to the jury. A minute later, she said: “I’m going to jail.”

During his sometimes tearful testimony, Potter told jurors that he was “sorry that this happened.” She said the traffic stop “just got chaotic.”

The maximum prison sentence for first-degree murder is 15 years. Minnesota law only sentences defendants to their most serious convictions, when multiple cases involve the same act and the same victim, and state guidelines call for about 7 years on that charge.

Prosecutors have said they will seek to substantiate such provoking factors, which are said to be an upward departure from sentencing guidelines. In Potter’s case, he alleged that his actions were a danger to others, including his fellow officers, to Wright’s passenger and the couple whose car was hit by Wright after the shooting. He also alleged that he misused his authority as a police officer.

For first-degree murder, prosecutors had to prove that Potter caused Wright’s death by committing a misdemeanor—in this case, “negligent handling or use of a firearm so as to kill another with such force and violence.” jeopardize the safety that death or bodily harm to any person great could have been reasonably foreseen.”

The second-degree murder charge required prosecutors to prove that Potter caused Wright’s death “by his culpable negligence,” meaning that he “created an unreasonable risk and intentionally took the chance of death or major bodily harm.” “While using or possessing a firearm to Wright .

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Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin. Associated Press writers Mohamed Ibrahim in Minneapolis and Kathleen Foodie in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Get full coverage of Associated Press’s Daunte Wright case: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-daunte-wright

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