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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Former officer Kim Potter was found guilty of both first- and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright on Thursday.
The jury came to a decision after nearly 28 hours of deliberations on mid-day Thursday, and the verdict was read soon after.
Potter, who showed no emotion during the reading, was taken away in handcuffs. She will be sentenced on Friday, Feb. 18.
In the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday afternoon, Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team, who prosecuted the case, stood with Daunte Wright's parents, reflecting that the 20-year-old "could have become anyone."
"All of us miss out on who Daunte could have been," Ellison said, adding that Potter's verdict is a mark of accountability, but not justice. Justice, he said, would be restoration.
Katie Bryant, Wright's mother, said she felt "every single emotion that you could imagine" after hearing the guilty verdict. "Now, we've been able to process it, we want to thank the entire prosecution team, we want to thank community, support, everybody who's been out there that has supported us in this long fight for accountability," she said.
When asked what she thought of Potter taking the stand last week, her husband Abruey Wright stepped in, saying "the truth beats out."
When they stepped outside into the crowd that had gathered outside the government center, Bryant was handed a microphone, and she thanked the crowd for their support.
"We love you, we appreciate you, and honestly we could not have done this without you," she said. "We're going to continue to say his name along with so many other names, until we don't have to say any more names."
Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney representing Wright's family, said they are "relieved that the justice system has provided some measure of accountability for the senseless death of their son, brother, father and friend."
Crump continued in his statement:
"From the unnecessary and overreaching tragic traffic stop to the shooting that took his life, that day will remain a traumatic one for this family and yet another example for America of why we desperately need change in policing, training and protocols. If we are ever going to restore the confidence of Black and marginalized Americans in law enforcement, we need to have accountability and a commitment to listening and to creating meaningful change."
Crump added that now, the focus will turn to making sure Potter receives the strictest sentence, and addressing the "systemic failures" of Brooklyn Center which contributed to Wright's death.
"No verdict can bring Daunte Wright back to his loved ones," Gov. Tim Walz wrote in a tweet. "Minnesota has work to do to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again, and I am committed to continuing that work."
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called the guilty verdict a moment for accountability. "True justice is Daunte being here with us, with his family, and with his young child. To deliver that life-affirming justice, we must not be content with accountability after this tragedy," he said.
Elliot said that he and the city are fully committed to implementing the Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler Community Safety and Violence Prevention Resolution that was passed by the city council in May.
"Fully implementing this transformative resolution will prevent more deaths at the hands of police and create a community where everyone has the resources and support necessary to thrive," he said. "It is the best way we have to honor and begin delivering justice to Daunte Wright and his family."
State Rep. Samantha Vang, who represents Brooklyn Center, said the verdict "is a move towards accountability so no civilian fears for their life in an encounter with police. We have a lot of work to do so our community can have its faith and trust restored in officers sworn to protect and serve."
Throughout the trial the prosecution argued that Potter was acting reckless when she mistook her firearm for her Taser, trying to prove that Potter was not taking her environment or her training into consideration, and putting her police partners in danger when she discharged her gun.
The defense on the other hand painted a picture of a chaotic struggle, caused by Wright, and an officer who under stressful circumstances made an "action error"; believing she was doing one thing while in fact, doing something else.
The jury came to a decision on the second-degree manslaughter charge on Tuesday morning. After asking Judge Regina Chu that afternoon what would happen if they could not come to a consensus, the 12 members eventually did, deciding to convict Potter on the first-degree manslaughter charge on Thursday.
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