Ellison says prosecutors won't challenge sentence for Kim Potter

Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison.  (FOX 9)

Speaking with FOX 9 in a one-on-one interview following the sentencing of Kim Potter in the death of Daunte Wright, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says he has no plans to challenge Judge Regina Chu's decision.

Judge Chu sentenced Potter, a former Brooklyn Center police officer, to two years behind bars for the deadly shooting in April 2021 during a traffic stop, a downward departure from state guidelines.

Potter says she mistakenly grabbed and fired her gun instead of a Taser when trying to place Daunte Wright under arrest. In court last week, Judge Chu said that while Potter acted wrongly and violated the law, she ultimately made a "tragic mistake."

Sentencing guidelines called for Potter to face at least 86 months in prison for first-degree manslaughter, as someone with no criminal record. However, while Ellison says he disagrees with the sentence, he has no plans to fight to reverse it.

"Look, I'm not going to second guess Judge Chu," said Ellison in an interview with FOX 9's Paul Blume. "I will say that it is my hope that sentences like this could be used to try to prevent the next tragedy."

"We believe that precedential cases would indicate that the court had the discretion and made the proper factual findings," Ellison added. "So we don't anticipate any realistic chance that the case would be reversed, the sentencing would be reversed. So we're not going to put resources into doing something we think will be futile."

The sentence drew scrutiny from activists along with Wright's family, particularly his mother Katie Wright. Speaking after the sentence, Wright said: "Kim Potter murdered my son, and he died April 11th. Today, the justice system murdered him all over again."

Speaking with FOX 9, Ellison empathized with the Wright family. "I do know that we've got to try to heal to the degree that we can. Our community needs healing, the Wrights need healing, the community needs healing. We all do. We should commit ourselves to the reforms that we should seek, and we should understand that the only thing we can do for Daunte Wright now is trying to prevent the next person from suffering this tragedy."

At the same time, Ellison says, from the start, the state understood that Potter didn't act out of malice but instead made a reckless mistake that cost Daunte Wright his life.

"We never thought that Kim Potter was a monster," said Ellison. "We thought that she led a pretty good life and did things the right way, but she made a fatal, lethal, reckless mistake that the law doesn't permit. Right? And so when she made the apology, it seemed like the kind of person that she was, you know, she's the kind of person who would apologize."

"But I think the apology did help because I know that they were upset about what they saw in the booking photo. The booking photo was an instant in time and somebody asked for her to smile. And she did. But I don't think anybody understood is that the Wrights would see that and be offended by it. And they were."