Kim Potter, the former suburban Minneapolis police officer who said she confused her handgun for her Taser when she killed Daunte Wright, will be sentenced in February on two counts of manslaughter, the Associated Press reports. For first-degree manslaughter, prosecutors had to prove Potter caused Wright’s death while recklessly handling a firearm in a way that death or great bodily harm was reasonably foreseeable. The second-degree manslaughter charge required prosecutors to prove Potter caused his death “by her culpable negligence,” meaning that Potter “caused an unreasonable risk and consciously took a chance of causing death or great bodily harm” to Wright. Under Minnesota law, Potter will be sentenced only on the most serious charge of first-degree manslaughter. It carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, but for someone with no criminal history, like Potter, the guidelines range from just more than six years to about 8 1/2 years, with the presumptive sentence being slightly over seven years.
Prosecutors say aggravating factors include that Potter caused a greater-than-normal danger to the safety of other people when she fired into Wright's car, including danger to her fellow officers, to Wright’s passenger and to the couple whose car was struck by Wright’s after the shooting. Defense attorney Paul Engh said the defense would seek a “dispositional departure” from sentencing guidelines. In arguing that Potter should remain free on bail until she is sentenced, Engh said: “She is amenable to probation. Her remorse and regret for the incident is overwhelming. She’s not a danger to the public whatsoever. She’s made all her court appearances.” Judge Regina Chu was unmoved, and Potter was taken into custody after the verdicts were read. If Potter is sentenced to the presumptive seven years, she would likely serve about four years and nine months behind bars, and the rest on supervised release.