State wants leeway on sentencing rules in Daunte Wright case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking approval for a more severe penalty than what is outlined in state guidelines if a former suburban Minneapolis police officer is convicted in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.

Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter is facing charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Wright, who was shot while he was trying to drive away from officers during a traffic stop in April. The sentencing guidelines for first-degree manslaughter range from 6 to 81/2 years in prison.

Potter has pleaded not guilty. She is scheduled to stand trial in December.

The move is similar to one made by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted in George Floyd’s death. In that case, a judge approved Ellison’s request for an upward departure because Floyd was particularly vulnerable and Chauvin abused his authority as a police officer.

Ellison wrote in a court document filed Wednesday that Potter “caused a greater-than-normal danger to the safety of other people” because she fired into a vehicle with a passenger and two officers were standing close to the vehicle.

Potter is recorded on body-camera video an instant after the shooting saying she mistakenly drew her firearm instead of her stun gun. Potter is white. Wright was Black. His death sparked several nights of protests.

Potter’s attorney, Earl Gray, did not return a phone message left late Friday.