Justice not granted in Daunte Wright case 


Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, CC BY 2.0 | Wikimedia Commons

Karina Ordonez

On April 11, 2021, former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter drew a gun instead of a taser and fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year old Black man, during a traffic stop. Potter was sentenced to only two years in prison, even after being convicted of first and second-degree manslaughter.

While this sentence is upsetting, it isn’t surprising.

The shooting happened in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, about 10 miles from where former police officer Derek Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd, another Black man.

According to Potter’s body camera, she pointed what appeared to be a handgun and yelled “Taser!” before aiming it at Wright. As the car pulled away she yelled, “I just shot him” to two other officers.

Potter testified in court with tears to gain sympathy points. Her lawyer argued that it was a genuine mistake and that she had no ill intent toward Wright. She had been in the police force for 26 years and had no past criminal record.

Normally, the sentence for manslaughter in Minnesota would be seven to 15 years. When Potter’s unusually short sentence was read in court, it caused a public outcry.

“They were so tied up into her feelings and what’s going on with her that they forgot about my son being killed,” Wright’s father, Arbuey Wright, said. “We actually thought we were going to get a little justice.”

America has a long history of white women weaponizing their tears to be seen as innocent in cases where they should be held accountable.

Examples of this weaponization are everywhere, from Emmet Till to the more common Internet sensation of “Karens,” which refers to white women harassing people of color in videos and then proceeding to cry to get out of the situation.

Racism is not an accident. With Potter’s long history of being in the police force, she should have been even more compelled to proceed with caution.

With her training, she should have experience being in “stressful” environments, especially when the man she pulled over ended up not being a threat to her, as Wright was unarmed.

It is also important to note that during Potter’s statements, she never referred to Wright by name. She continued to call him “the driver” and never looked at the Wright family.

With such a short sentence, police violence will continue to happen if consequences are not put on the same people who are supposed to protect their citizens. Any person who commits manslaughter should face being sentenced accordingly. That is supposed to be the law.

Even with the unfair sentence, the Wright family was met with support from the community of Brooklyn Center. Many joined them in protests and spoke up on the issue.

At a news conference days after the shooting, his mother was joined by Courtney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, and Wright’s former teacher. Ross never left her side.