Ex-Brooklyn Center cop Kim Potter is seen bizarrely grinning from ear to ear in her new mugshot shortly after she was convicted of first and second degree manslaughter for shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright dead.
Potter, 49, was led away in handcuffs and ordered to be held without bail ahead of her sentencing in February after being found guilty on all counts at Hennepin County Court on Thursday.
Jurors in the dramatic eight-day trial came to a decision after close to 28 hours of deliberations, during which they had, at times, seemed hopelessly deadlocked.
The jury of six men and six women – nine white, two Asian and one black – alerted the judge that they had reached a verdict shortly before noon on the fourth day of deliberations.
Potter remained impassive between her attorneys and did not react throughout the reading of the guilty verdict or the news that she would be taken into custody.
One of the jurors wept and shook as the decision was read. Wright’s family members let out loud sighs with each guilty count.
As she left the courtroom, her husband, who was present with the couple’s sons, shouted ‘I love you, Kim.’ Potter did not react.
After reading out the outcome, Judge Regina Chu confirmed with each juror individually that this was their ‘true and correct verdict.’ The judge told group that they were ‘the heroes of our judicial system.’
When Potter had been led from the courtroom, prosecutor Erin Eldridge exchanged a long hug with a tearful Katie Bryant, Wright’s mother and a frequent presence at the trial, and with Wright’s father.
Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office handled the prosecution, also exchanged hugs with the parents.
It was the second high-profile conviction of a police officer won this year by a team led by Ellison. It included some of the same attorneys who helped convict Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death in the very same courtroom just eight months earlier.
Stepping up to the microphone in a brief press conference following the verdict, Ellison said that Potter had gone from being ‘an esteemed member of the community and honored member of a noble profession’ to a person convicted of a serious crime.
He said that he wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
But according to the AG, Potter’s conviction was an ‘important step’ towards justice while it fell short of ever truly being that.
Echoing the speech he made following the conviction of Derek Chauvin in March, Ellison explained that this conviction was merely, ‘accountability.’
Justice, he said ‘is restoration and making the Wright family whole again,’ and that, ‘is beyond our reach.’
Bryant said the verdicts triggered ‘every single emotion that you could imagine.’
‘Today we have gotten accountability and that’s what we’ve been asking for from the beginning,’ she said, crediting supporters for keeping up pressure.
‘We love you, we appreciate you, and honestly, we could not have done it without you,’ she said.
Once the jury was released, Potter’s attorneys made a plea to the judge to reconsider her decision to take the ex-cop into custody.
Defense attorney Paul Engh told the judge: ‘She is a devoted Catholic. She’s not a risk to the public.’ Attorney Earl Gray added that Potter had ‘deep roots in the community’ and ‘is not going anywhere.’
Judge Chu refused to budge informing both: ‘I cannot treat this case any differently than any other case.’
She will now consider so-called ‘Blakely issues’ – aggravating factors that the state says speak to a need for a higher sentence than someone with Potter’s lack of criminal record might otherwise receive on the charges.
Similarly, her defense have said they plan to put in a motion asking for a lesser sentence. The defense has asked for a month to do this while the state said they will need two weeks.
A date for these motions has been set for January 31 with sentencing set for 9am, Friday February 18.
Potter will serve out her sentence in Minnesota’s Shakopee woman’s prison. Under Minnesota statute, the minimum sentence possible given the severity of her convictions is three years. That sentence would see her spend two of those years in prison.
The maximum prison sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 15 years. Minnesota law sentences defendants only on their most serious conviction when multiple counts involve the same act and the same victim, and state guidelines call for about seven years on that charge.
While the atmosphere inside courtroom felt tense and quiet following the verdict, outside, crowds of demonstrators tuning in on their smartphones and braving the frigid Minnesota temperatures celebrated and rejoiced as Potter was led away in handcuffs.
Among them was Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend, who told DailyMail.com: ‘The jury did the right thing.
‘Floyd’s spirit told me he was going to come back guilty,’ she added.
Two men jumped up and down holding one another’s shoulders. Other people then began jumping up and down in place and chanting ‘Guilty, guilty, guilty!’
Addressing the media outside Hennepin County Courthouse, Attorney General Ellison focused on Potter’s victim.
He said: ‘At this moment I ask us all to reflect upon the life of Daunte Wright and who he could have been had he had a chance to grow up.
‘At 20 Daunte could have done anything, maybe he could have gone into the building trade, maybe he could have started a business.
‘What we know is that he was a young dad and so proud of his son Daunte Jr. and we know that he loved his mom and his dad and his siblings and his big, beautiful family.
‘He had his whole life ahead of him and he could have been anyone. All of us miss out on who Daunte would have been.’
Nobody, Ellison said, missed him more than his parents as he extended his ‘deepest condolences’ to Arbuey and Katie Wright who stood behind him.
‘There will be an empty chair at the Wright family table during the Holidays and that saddens