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Protesters gathered in Minneapolis on Friday evening after the sentencing of former Minnesota police Officer Kim Potter to two years in prison in the April 2021 shooting death of Daunte Wright, according to reports.
In addition, reports were emerging on social media that looting was underway at stores in Brooklyn Center, the Minneapolis suburb where Potter worked and where the death of Wright occurred.
Brooklyn Center police confirmed that only a beauty supply store had been looted, but also said they’d received reports that other stores may have been struck as well, according to WCCO-TV of Minneapolis.
Around 100 protesters, some on foot and others in their vehicles, gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center following the Potter sentencing and marched to the Loring Park neighborhood, where they stopped outside a condominium building that was said to be the home of Judge Regina Chu, who presided over the Potter case, FOX 9 of Minneapolis reported.
KIM POTTER SENTENCING: EX-COP WHO KILLED DAUNTE WRIGHT HIT WITH 16 MONTHS BEHIND BARS
Protesters held signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” and “Justice for Daunte Wright,” according to photos posted on Twitter by FOX 9 reporter Vanshay Murdock.
Members of the New Black Panthers held signs with Potter’s photo, reading “Shameless: Maximum Sentence!” according to The Associated Press.
Other demonstrators, meanwhile, supported the former police officer, with signs reading “Free Kim Potter,” and “We Love You, Kim; Support the Police,” the AP reported.
State sentencing guidelines recommend a penalty of about seven years in prison on a manslaughter conviction but Chu sentenced Potter to just two years, arguing that Potter’s shooting of Wright was accidental and that Potter had expressed remorse.
But Wright’s family and other supporters argued the judge’s sentence was too lenient.
“So, once again we are standing here to say that we’re very disappointed in the outcome,” Katie Wright , the mother of Daunte Wright, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. “Yes, we got a conviction, and we thank everybody for that, but, again, this isn’t OK. This is the problem with our justice system today. White-woman tears trump … trump justice.”
“I feel like we was tricked,” Aubrey Wright, the dead man’s father, told the newspaper. “I walk out of this courthouse feeling like people are laughing at us because this lady got a slap on the wrist and we still every night sitting around crying, waiting for my son to come home.”
Potter had claimed she mistakenly grabbed her police firearm instead of a stun gun during her confrontation with Wright, and police video of the incident appeared to show Potter realizing she had erred.
“This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine minutes as he gasped for air,” Chu said in court during the sentencing hearing, according to FOX 9. “This is not a cop found guilty of manslaughter for intentionally drawing his firearm and shooting across his partner to kill an unarmed woman as she approached his car. This is a cop who made a tragic mistake. She drew her firearm thinking it was a Taser, and ended up killing a young man.”
The judge’s comments alluded to two other highly publicized cases in Minnesota regarding deaths involving police officers: the May 2020 death of George Floyd, for which a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck was later convicted of murder, and the July 2017 death of Justine Damond, who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer who was responding to Damond’s 9-1-1 call about a possible assault of a different woman near Damond’s house. The police officer in the Damond case was later convicted on a murder charge and a manslaughter charge but the murder charge was later overturned and his prison sentence was reduced.
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The head of Minnesota’s largest police union said he supported the sentence that the judge issued to Potter.
“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,” Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said in a statement, according to the Star Tribune.
After her sentencing Friday, Potter was returned to a women’s state prison in Shakopee, Minnesota, where she has been held without bail since her conviction in December. Her time already served in prison since her arrest was to be deducted from her sentence, making Potter’s expected release date April 24, 2023, FOX 9 reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.