The upcoming sentencing of former Minneapolis Police Officer Kim Potter for the manslaughter of Daunte Wright will place a renewed focus on a similar case involving a former Black officer who accidentally killed an unarmed white woman.
Potter, who is white, was convicted on Thursday of first- and second-degree manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting of Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop in April. She is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 18, 2022, and could face a maximum of up to 15 years in prison for the first-degree charge and 10 years for the second-degree count.
Minnesota sentencing guidelines recommend that Potter be given a sentence of about seven years for the first-degree charge and four years for the second-degree count. However, prosecutors have indicated that they intend to seek a longer-than-usual sentence, according to NPR.
During a Tuesday interview with Yahoo News, Wright family attorney Benjamin Crump compared Potter’s case to that of Black ex-Officer Mohamed Noor, who was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting 40-year-old Justine Damond while responding to her 911 call in 2017.
Crump noted that both of the former officers expressed remorse and argued that the respective shootings were a « mistake. » The attorney is concerned that Potter could escape conviction or a longer prison sentence on account of her race.
« This case is eerily similar to the case of Officer Mohamed Noor, a Black police officer who shot an unarmed white woman, » Crump said. « He was convicted in this same courthouse and sentenced to 12 years … When we come to Kim Potter, her arguments are exactly analogous to what Officer Noor said. »
« Why should [Potter] escape culpability? » added Crump. « We can’t have two different systems of justice in America. And all we’re saying is we want equal justice for Daunte Wright. Don’t change your rules when it’s one of our children lying dead on the ground. »
Potter was convicted of all charges. The family of Wright and a number of activists had unsuccessfully lobbied for a murder charge in addition to the manslaughter charges.
Noor’s third-degree murder conviction was overturned in September by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which found that the charge was not appropriate because he did not display « a generalized indifference to human life. » His manslaughter conviction was not overturned and he remains behind bars.
The Somali American Police Association issued a statement calling the conviction of Noor, who is a Somali immigrant, « heavily influenced » by « institutional prejudices against people of color. » Somali American protesters also gathered outside the courthouse to protest the length of his original sentence, arguing it was motivated by Noor’s race and the fact he is a Muslim, according to The New York Times.
« This case is about a black Muslim immigrant, » protester Ahmednur Abdirahman told the paper. « They are worried about disappointing the white community. For that reason, justice was not served today. »
While Noor was initially sentenced to more than 12 years in prison, he was not given the harshest possible sentence. The former officer was eligible for up to 25 years in prison on his original murder conviction and up to 10 years for manslaughter.
In October, Judge Kathryn Quaintance resentenced Noor to 57 months for the manslaughter charge, on the higher end of state sentencing guidelines. The judge rejected a defense request for a sentence of around 3 1/2 years. Noor has served 31 months and could be released next year on parole.
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