MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Around 100 protesters, on foot and in cars, gathered in the streets of downtown Minneapolis Friday evening after former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to 24 months, with 16 months served in prison, and the remaining on supervised release.
After a 4:30 p.m. news conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center, the group made their way to the Loring Park neighborhood near downtown Minneapolis, outside a condo that protesters say is the home of Judge Regina Chu, the presiding judge over the Potter case.
Some protesters say they are upset and disappointed that Potter was sentenced with a downward departure from the state's sentencing guidelines of 86 months. They disapprove of the lighter sentence and say it is a reflection of the flawed justice system. Katie Wright, the mother of Daunte Wright, and other family members were among those who joined protesters. FOX 9 estimated about 50 people were outside in blustery winds until the crowd cleared around 6 p.m.
Presiding Judge Regina Chu said there was no question that Potter was extremely remorseful when she announced a downward departure from state guidelines with a total sentence of 24 months, with 16 months served in prison, and the remaining on supervised release. Potter will receive credit for 58 days served.
Chu said she found the facts and circumstances of the case justified a downward departure from state guidelines. Factors included Potter mistakenly used her firearm, and the killing was unintentional, which constitutes a mitigating stance. Potter’s actions were also not driven towards personal animosity towards Wright.
"This is not a cop found guilty of murder for using his knee to pin down a person for nine minutes as he gasped for air. This is not a cop found guilty of manslaughter for intentionally drawing his firearm and shooting across his partner to kill an unarmed woman as she approached his car," Chu said. "This is a cop who made a tragic mistake. She drew her firearm thinking it was a taser, and ended up killing a young man."
Minnesota state sentencing guidelines called for a sentence of 86 months in prison, or just over seven years for someone who has no criminal record. Potter’s legal team asked Chu for probation. Experts have said Judge Chu had a wide latitude when ultimately imposing sentence.
After sentencing on Friday, Potter returned to the women's state prison facility in Shakopee, Minn., where she's been held without bail since her conviction in December. FOX 9 learned that she is living in isolated housing and was told by the Department of Corrections that they will re-evaluate her living conditions moving forward. Her release date, as of Friday, is set for April 24, 2023.