Dec 19, 2022 - News

Minnesota Pardon Board agenda won't include early release for ex-cop Kimberly Potter

Former police officer Kimberly Potter testifies during the trial for the killing of Daunte Wright.

Former police officer Kimberly Potter testifies during her trial last year. Screenshot via court video feed.

The Minnesota Board of Pardons will not consider a commutation application from Kimberly Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer convicted of fatally shooting a 20-year-old Black man during a traffic stop

The big picture: Potter is serving a two-year sentence for shooting and killing Daunte Wright while attempting to take him into custody during an April 2021 traffic stop. She has said she meant to pull out her taser but mistakenly grabbed and fired her gun.

Driving the news: The state Board of Pardons is scheduled to consider 40 pardon or commutation requests during a two-day meeting that begins Monday.

  • Potter's application seeking an earlier release was excluded from the agenda, meaning it's unlikely to get formal consideration.

Context: The Board of Pardons, made up of the governor, the attorney general and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, meets twice a year to review pardon and commutation requests. Approvals require unanimous support.

  • The board's secretary, who is also the state corrections commissioner, prescreens all applications and places those deemed eligible for review on the agenda.

What she's saying: In a hand-written application submitted in May, Potter said she has taken responsibility for Wright's killing and that "the sadness and remorse I feel for this death will be with me forever."

  • But she argued that she has "things to offer the community that prison walls don’t allow.”
  • “Being in prison keeps me from doing the good work God intended for me to do," she wrote, citing work with domestic abuse victims and people experiencing homelessness.

The response: Department of Corrections communications director Nick Kimball told Axios via email that Potter's "sentence was substantially less harsh than called for by the sentencing guidelines." He noted that her scheduled April 24 release date is just four months away.

  • "A jury convicted Ms. Potter of recklessly causing the death of another human being — a 24-month sentence is not clearly excessive for that conduct," Kimball wrote.
  • Any member of the board can override the decision and place a rejected application on a future agenda, he added, but the timing of Potter's case means it would be moot by the next meeting in May.

Between the lines: Potter's sentence sparked strong reactions last year, with some arguing it was too lenient and others saying it was too harsh.

  • Wright's family argued the judge's downward departure from the guidelines was “a slap on the wrist.”
  • Meanwhile, GOP candidates for governor and attorney general pledged during last year's campaign to support a full pardon if elected.

Of note: Attorneys for Potter and the Wright family have not responded to Axios' request for comment.


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