Former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kimberly A. Potter on Thursday made her first court appearance one day after being charged with second-degree manslaughter for killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Sunday.
Potter appeared in a flannel shirt in the office of her attorney, Earl Gray, for the brief virtual hearing held via Zoom. She objected to having her first court appearance broadcast or photographed. Potter has not appeared in public since the fatal shooting, abruptly resigning from the police force on Tuesday before being charged and briefly jailed before bonding out on Wednesday.
Minnesota District Judge Paul R. Scoggin reminded Potter that, under the terms of her bail, she was not allowed to possess, use or transport firearms, ammunition or explosives and the defense agreed she would appear in person for her next hearing in one month.
During a news conference that ended just before Potter’s hearing, Wright’s family said that while the former police officer has returned home, their loved one never will, making justice elusive, no matter what charges she faces.
“We can’t get him back, so why should she get back her life?” Nyesha Wright, Daunte’s aunt, asked as the family gathered inside the Minneapolis church where his funeral will be held next week.
Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, said even the best-case scenario of a conviction will leave the family with an unbearable loss.
“I do want accountability at the highest level, but even then, when that happens — if that even happens — we’re still going to bury our son,” Katie Wright said. “We’re still not going to be able to see our baby boy. So when people say ‘justice,’ I just shake my head.”
The family had previously stated that anything short of a murder charge against Potter would be insufficient for them. If convicted, Potter’s second-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, Potter would likely serve closer to four years given her lack of criminal history.
That Potter is facing any charges is relatively unusual as fatal shootings by police rarely result in them. Officers fatally shoot about 1,000 people a year, according to a Washington Post database. Most of these people are armed; Wright was not.
Most police shootings are deemed justified, meaning only a small portion of officers ever face charges.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Wright’s family, called the charges against Potter “a sign we’re making progress.” He added, “The journey to justice is a long one.”