The issue of race was barely raised up during the trial of Kim Potter, a former Brooklyn Center, Mn., police officer who was convicted of manslaughter for killing Daunte Wright after she said she confused her handgun for her Taser. Wright’s family members and many activists say the killing of the 20-year-old Black motorist has always been about race, from the moment officers decided to pull him over, to the moment a judge gave Potter a two-year sentence, which family members said gave more consideration to the white defendant than the Black victim. “What we see today is the legal system in America in Black and white,” Ben Crump, an attorney for Wright’s family, said after Friday’s sentencing, the Associated Press reports.
Wright was killed on April 11 after officers stopped him for having expired license tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, violations that civil rights activists say are pretexts to stop Black motorists. Officers discovered Wright had a warrant for a weapons possession charge and they tried to arrest him but he pulled away. Family members and activists applauded when a mostly white jury convicted Potter of both first- and second-degree manslaughter. They felt as if justice was removed when Judge Regina Chu gave Potter two years, well below the presumptive sentence of just over seven years recommended by state guidelines. “The judge overstepped her bounds and undermined any legitimacy from the judicial process that happened in this case,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and activist. Law Prof. Ayesha Bell Hardaway, co-director of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said the level of kindness Chu showed Potter was remarkable.